Dr Peter Mayerhofer

Lecturer in Molecular Immunology

Qualifications: PhD

Phone: Work: 01483 68 9220
Room no: 06 AY 02

Office hours

Mon – Fri. By appointment only.

Further information


2015 (Dec) Lecturer in Molecular Immunology, Department of Biochemical Sciences, University
of Surrey, Guildford, UK

2010-2015 Senior Scientist, Department of Cellular Biochemistry, Goethe-University Frankfurt,

2005-2010 Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Molecular and Cellular Medicine,
Texas A&M University, College Station, USA

2003-2005 Research Associate, Department of Biochemical Genetics and Molecular Biology,
Dr. v. Hauner Children’s Hospital, Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich, Germany

1998-2003 Graduate Research Fellow, Department of Clinical Chemistry and Metabolism,
Dr. v. Hauner Children’s Hospital, Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich; in
collaboration with the Institute of Experimental Genetics, GSF National Research Center for Environment and Health, Munich, Germany

Research Interests

My general research interests include protein sorting, organelle homeostasis, protein quality control, and antigen presentation. Malfunctions in these processes are the cause of severe human diseases, and research in my group aims to uncover the underlying molecular mechanisms. In particular, we are interested in molecular machineries that facilitate protein and peptide translocation across eukaryotic membranes.

My current research focuses in particular on peroxisomal biogenesis. Peroxisomes are ubiquitous organelles responsible for various metabolic pathways. Their significance in human metabolism is illustrated by the existence of severe inherited metabolic diseases caused by the failure of peroxisomal function. In addition, peroxisomal homeostasis is involved in diverse cellular and systemic processes such as apoptosis, cellular aging, cancer development, immune defence, and host-pathogen interactions.

By characterizing an endoplasmic reticulum (ER) mediated de novo peroxisomal biogenesis pathway, we recently challenged the long-standing theory that peroxisomes arise exclusively by growth and division of pre-existing peroxisomes. Moreover, we revealed mechanistic details of human peroxisomal membrane protein (PMP) entry into and exit from the ER membrane. These findings suggest that at least some mammalian PMPs transit through the ER on their way to peroxisomes.

Part of the research in my group is directed to understand the function of macromolecular complexes that initiate, regulate, and facilitate ER-mediated peroxisomal biogenesis. Moreover, we aim at elucidating how defects in peroxisomal homeostasis are related to the adaptive and innate immune system.

Research Collaborations

Prof Johannes Berger, Medical University of Vienna, Austria
Prof Ralf Erdmann, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany
Prof Arthur E. Johnson, Texas A&M Health Science Center, USA
Prof Andrey L. Karamyshev, UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, USA
Prof Ismael Mingarro, Universitat de València, Spain
Prof Robert Tampé, Goethe-University Frankfurt, Germany


Journal articles

  • Mayerhofer PU, Tampé R. (2015) 'Antigen translocation machineries in adaptive immunity and viral immune evasion'. J Mol Biol, 427, pp. 1102-1118.


    Protein homeostasis results in a steady supply of peptides, which are further degraded to fuel protein synthesis or metabolic needs of the cell. In higher vertebrates, a small fraction of the resulting peptidome, however, is translocated into the endoplasmic reticulum by the transporter associated with antigen processing (TAP). Antigenic peptides are guided to major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC I) molecules and are finally displayed on the cell surface, where they mount an adaptive immune response against viral infected or malignantly transformed cells. Here, we review the structural organization and the molecular mechanism of this specialized antigen translocon. We discuss how the ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter TAP communicates and cooperates within the multi-component peptide loading machinery, mediating the proper assembly and editing of kinetically stable peptide/MHC I complexes. In light of its important role within the MHC I antigen processing pathway, TAP is a prime target for viral immune evasion strategies, and we summarize how this antigen translocation machinery is sabotaged by viral factors. Finally, we compare TAP with other ABC systems that facilitate peptide translocation.

  • Mayerhofer PU. (2015) 'Targeting and insertion of peroxisomal membrane proteins: ER trafficking versus direct delivery to peroxisomes'. Biochim Biophys Acta,
  • Mayerhofer PU, Bano-Polo M, Mingarro I, Johnson AE. (2015) 'Human peroxin PEX3 is co-translationally integrated into the ER and exits the ER in budding vesicles'. Traffic,


    The long-standing paradigm that all peroxisomal proteins are imported post-translationally into preexisting peroxisomes has been challenged by the detection of peroxisomal membrane proteins (PMPs) inside the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). In mammals, the mechanisms of ER entry and exit of PMPs are completely unknown. We show that the human PMP PEX3 inserts co-translationally into the mammalian ER via the Sec61 translocon. Photocrosslinking and fluorescence spectroscopy studies demonstrate that the N-terminal transmembrane segment (TMS) of ribosome-bound PEX3 is recognized by the signal recognition particle (SRP). Binding to SRP is a prerequisite for targeting of the PEX3-containing ribosome*nascent chain complex (RNC) to the translocon, where an ordered multistep pathway integrates the nascent chain into the membrane adjacent to translocon proteins Sec61alpha and TRAM. This insertion of PEX3 into the ER is physiologically relevant because PEX3 then exits the ER via budding vesicles in an ATP-dependent process. This study identifies early steps in human peroxisomal biogenesis by demonstrating sequential stages of PMP passage through the mammalian ER.

  • Lin J, Eggensperger S, Hank S, Wycisk AI, Wieneke R, Mayerhofer PU, Tampé R. (2014) 'A negative feedback modulator of antigen processing evolved from a frameshift in the cowpox virus genome'. PLoS Pathog, 10


    Coevolution of viruses and their hosts represents a dynamic molecular battle between the immune system and viral factors that mediate immune evasion. After the abandonment of smallpox vaccination, cowpox virus infections are an emerging zoonotic health threat, especially for immunocompromised patients. Here we delineate the mechanistic basis of how cowpox viral CPXV012 interferes with MHC class I antigen processing. This type II membrane protein inhibits the coreTAP complex at the step after peptide binding and peptide-induced conformational change, in blocking ATP binding and hydrolysis. Distinct from other immune evasion mechanisms, TAP inhibition is mediated by a short ER-lumenal fragment of CPXV012, which results from a frameshift in the cowpox virus genome. Tethered to the ER membrane, this fragment mimics a high ER-lumenal peptide concentration, thus provoking a trans-inhibition of antigen translocation as supply for MHC I loading. These findings illuminate the evolution of viral immune modulators and the basis of a fine-balanced regulation of antigen processing.

  • Wycisk AI, Lin J, Loch S, Hobohm K, Funke J, Wieneke R, Koch J, Skach WR, Mayerhofer PU, Tampé R. (2011) 'Epstein-Barr viral BNLF2a protein hijacks the tail-anchored protein insertion machinery to block antigen processing by the transport complex TAP'. J Biol Chem, 286, pp. 41402-41412.


    Virus-infected cells are eliminated by cytotoxic T lymphocytes, which recognize viral epitopes displayed on major histocompatibility complex class I molecules at the cell surface. Herpesviruses have evolved sophisticated strategies to escape this immune surveillance. During the lytic phase of EBV infection, the viral factor BNLF2a interferes with antigen processing by preventing peptide loading of major histocompatibility complex class I molecules. Here we reveal details of the inhibition mechanism of this EBV protein. We demonstrate that BNLF2a acts as a tail-anchored protein, exploiting the mammalian Asna-1/WRB (Get3/Get1) machinery for posttranslational insertion into the endoplasmic reticulum membrane, where it subsequently blocks antigen translocation by the transporter associated with antigen processing (TAP). BNLF2a binds directly to the core TAP complex arresting the ATP-binding cassette transporter in a transport-incompetent conformation. The inhibition mechanism of EBV BNLF2a is distinct and mutually exclusive of other viral TAP inhibitors.

  • Mayerhofer PU, Cook JP, Wahlman J, Pinheiro TT, Moore KA, Lord JM, Johnson AE, Roberts LM. (2009) 'Ricin A chain insertion into endoplasmic reticulum membranes is triggered by a temperature increase to 37 {degrees}C'. J Biol Chem, 284, pp. 10232-10242.


    After endocytic uptake by mammalian cells, the heterodimeric plant toxin ricin is transported to the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), where the ricin A chain (RTA) must cross the ER membrane to reach its ribosomal substrates. Here, using gel filtration chromatography, sedimentation, fluorescence, fluorescence resonance energy transfer, and circular dichroism, we show that both fluorescently labeled and unlabeled RTA bind both to ER microsomal membranes and to negatively charged liposomes. The binding of RTA to the membrane at 0-30 degrees C exposes certain RTA residues to the nonpolar lipid core of the bilayer with little change in the secondary structure of the protein. However, major structural rearrangements in RTA occur when the temperature is increased. At 37 degrees C, membrane-bound toxin loses some of its helical content, and its C terminus moves closer to the membrane surface where it inserts into the bilayer. RTA is then stably bound to the membrane because it is nonextractable with carbonate. The sharp temperature dependence of the structural changes does not coincide with a lipid phase change because little change in fluorescence-detected membrane mobility occurred between 30 and 37 degrees C. Instead, the structural rearrangements may precede or initiate toxin retrotranslocation through the ER membrane to the cytosol. The sharp temperature dependence of these changes in RTA further suggests that they occur optimally in mammalian targets of the plant toxin.

  • Maier EM, Mayerhofer PU, Asheuer M, Kohler W, Rothe M, Muntau AC, Roscher AA, Holzinger A, Aubourg P, Berger J. (2008) 'X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy phenotype is independent of ABCD2 genotype'. Biochem Biophys Res Commun, 377, pp. 176-180.


    Strikingly variable clinical phenotypes can be found in X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD) even with the same ABCD1 mutation. ABCD2 is the closest homolog to ABCD1. Since ABCD2 overexpression complements the loss of ABCD1 in vivo and in vitro, we have investigated the possible role of the ABCD2 gene locus as determinant of X-ALD phenotypes. Sequence and segregation analysis of the ABCD2 gene, in a large X-ALD family with different phenotypes disclosed that the identical ABCD2 alleles were inherited in brothers affected by mild (noncerebral) versus severe (childhood cerebral) X-ALD phenotypes. Moreover, two independent association studies of ABCD2 polymorphisms and clinical phenotypes showed an even allele distribution in different X-ALD phenotypes and controls. Based on these findings ABCD2 can be excluded as a major modifier locus for clinical diversity in X-ALD. These findings are of particular importance for the attempt of pharmacological induction of ABCD2 as a possible therapeutic approach in X-ALD.

  • Stadler SC, Polanetz R, Maier EM, Heidenreich SC, Niederer B, Mayerhofer PU, Lagler F, Koch HG, Santer R, Fletcher JM, Ranieri E, Das AM, Spiekerkotter U, Schwab KO, Potzsch S, Marquardt I, Hennermann JB, Knerr I, Mercimek-Mahmutoglu S, Kohlschmidt N, Liebl B, Fingerhut R, Olgemoller B, Muntau AC, Roscher AA, Roschinger W. (2006) 'Newborn screening for 3-methylcrotonyl-CoA carboxylase deficiency: population heterogeneity of MCCA and MCCB mutations and impact on risk assessment'. Hum Mutat, 27, pp. 748-759.


    New technology enables expansion of newborn screening (NBS) of inborn errors aimed to prevent adverse outcome. In conditions with a large share of asymptomatic phenotypes, the potential harm created by NBS must carefully be weighed against benefit. Policies vary throughout the United States, Australia, and Europe due to limited data on outcome and treatability of candidate screening conditions. We elaborated the rationale for decision making in 3-methylcrotonyl-coenzyme A (CoA) carboxylase deficiency (MCCD), which afflicts leucine catabolism, with reported outcomes ranging from asymptomatic to death. In Bavaria, we screened 677,852 neonates for 25 conditions, including MCCD, based on elevated concentrations of 3-hydroxyisovalerylcarnitine (3-HIVA-C). Genotypes of MCCA (MCCC1) and MCCB (MCCC2) were assessed in identified newborns, their relatives, and in individuals (n = 17) from other regions, and correlated to biochemical and clinical phenotypes. NBS revealed eight newborns and six relatives with MCCD, suggesting a higher frequency than previously assumed (1:84,700). We found a strikingly heterogeneous spectrum of 22 novel and eight reported mutations. Allelic variants were neither related to biochemical nor anamnestic data of our probands showing all asymptomatic or benign phenotypes. Comparative analysis of case reports with NBS data implied that only few individuals (< 10%) develop symptoms. In addition, none of the symptoms reported so far can clearly be attributed to MCCD. MCCD is a genetic condition with low clinical expressivity and penetrance. It largely represents as nondisease. So far, there are no genetic or biochemical markers that would identify the few individuals potentially at risk for harmful clinical expression. The low ratio of benefit to harm was pivotal to the decision to exclude MCCD from NBS in Germany. MCCD may be regarded as exemplary of the ongoing controversy arising from the inclusion of potentially asymptomatic conditions, which generates a psychological burden for afflicted families and a financial burden for health care systems.

  • Stadler SC, Polanetz R, Meier S, Mayerhofer PU, Herrmann JM, Anslinger K, Roscher AA, Roschinger W, Holzinger A. (2005) 'Mitochondrial targeting signals and mature peptides of 3-methylcrotonyl-CoA carboxylase'. Biochem Biophys Res Commun, 334, pp. 939-946.


    Inherited deficiency of 3-methylcrotonyl-CoA carboxylase (MCC), an enzyme of leucine degradation, is an organic acidemia detectable by expanded newborn screening with a variable phenotype that ranges from asymptomatic to death in infancy. Here, we show that the two subunits of the enzyme (MCCalpha; MCCbeta) are imported into the mitochondrial matrix by the classical pathway involving cleavable amino-terminal targeting presequences. We identified the cleavage sites (Tyr41/Thr42 and Ala22/Tyr23 for MCCalpha and MCCbeta, respectively) of the targeting signals and the amino-termini of the mature polypeptides of MCC and propionyl-CoA carboxylase, a mitochondrial paralog. The amino-termini containing 39 (MCCalpha) or 20 amino acids (MCCbeta) were both necessary and sufficient for targeting. Structural requirements for mitochondrial import were defined by site-directed mutagenesis. Our studies provide the prerequisite to understand the impact of specific mutations on the clinical phenotype of MCC deficiency.

  • Landgraf P, Mayerhofer PU, Polanetz R, Roscher AA, Holzinger A. (2003) 'Targeting of the human adrenoleukodystrophy protein to the peroxisomal membrane by an internal region containing a highly conserved motif'. Eur J Cell Biol, 82, pp. 401-410.


    In this study we addressed the targeting requirements of peroxisomal ABC transporters, in particular the human adrenoleukodystrophy protein. This membrane protein is defective or missing in X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy, a neurodegenerative disorder predominantly presenting in childhood. Using adrenoleukodystrophy protein deletion constructs and green fluorescent protein fusion constructs we identified the amino acid regions 1-110 and 67-164 to be sufficient for peroxisomal targeting. However, the minimal region shared by these constructs (amino acids 67-110) is not sufficient for peroxisomal targeting by itself. Additionally, the NH2-terminal 66 amino acids enhance targeting efficiency. Green fluorescent protein-labeled fragments of human peroxisomal membrane protein 69 and Saccharomyces cerevisiae Pxa1 corresponding to the amino acid 67-164 adrenoleukodystrophy protein region were also directed to the mammalian peroxisome. The required region contains a 14-amino-acid motif (71-84) conserved between the adrenoleukodystrophy protein and human peroxisomal membrane protein 69 and yeast Pxa1. Omission or truncation of this motif in the adrenoleukodystrophy protein abolished peroxisomal targeting. The single amino acid substitution L78F resulted in a significant reduction of targeting efficiency. The in-frame deletion of three amino acids (del78-80LLR) within the proposed targeting motif in two patients suffering from X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy resulted in the mislocalization of a green fluorescent protein fusion protein to nucleus, cytosol and mitochondria. Our data define the targeting region of human adrenoleukodystrophy protein containing a highly conserved 14-amino-acid motif.

  • Holzinger A, Maier EM, Buck C, Mayerhofer PU, Kappler M, Haworth JC, Moroz SP, Hadorn HB, Sadler JE, Roscher AA. (2002) 'Mutations in the proenteropeptidase gene are the molecular cause of congenital enteropeptidase deficiency'. Am J Hum Genet, 70, pp. 20-25.


    Enteropeptidase (enterokinase [E.C.]) is a serine protease of the intestinal brush border in the proximal small intestine. It activates the pancreatic proenzyme trypsinogen, which, in turn, releases active digestive enzymes from their inactive pancreatic precursors. Congenital enteropeptidase deficiency is a rare recessively inherited disorder leading, in affected infants, to severe failure to thrive. The genomic structure of the proenteropeptidase gene (25 exons, total gene size 88 kb) was characterized in order to perform DNA sequencing in three clinically and biochemically proved patients with congenital enteropeptidase deficiency who were from two families. We found compound heterozygosity for nonsense mutations (S712X/R857X) in two affected siblings and found compound heterozygosity for a nonsense mutation (Q261X) and a frameshift mutation (FsQ902) in the third patient. In accordance with the biochemical findings, all four defective alleles identified are predicted null alleles leading to a gene product not containing the active site of the enzyme. These data provide first evidence that proenteropeptidase-gene mutations are the primary cause of congenital enteropeptidase deficiency.

  • Mayerhofer PU, Kattenfeld T, Roscher AA, Muntau AC. (2002) 'Two splice variants of human PEX19 exhibit distinct functions in peroxisomal assembly'. Biochem Biophys Res Commun, 291, pp. 1180-1186.


    PEX19 has been shown to play a central role in the early steps of peroxisomal membrane synthesis. Computational database analysis of the PEX19 sequence revealed three different conserved domains: D1 (aa 1--87), D2 (aa 88--272), and D3 (aa 273--299). However, these domains have not yet been linked to specific biological functions. We elected to functionally characterize the proteins derived from two naturally occurring PEX19 splice variants: PEX19DeltaE2 lacking the N-terminal domain D1 and PEX19DeltaE8 lacking the domain D3. Both interact with peroxisomal ABC transporters (ALDP, ALDRP, PMP70) and with full-length PEX3 as shown by in vitro protein interaction studies. PEX19DeltaE8 also interacts with a PEX3 protein lacking the peroxisomal targeting region located at the N-terminus (Delta66aaPEX3), whereas PEX19DeltaE2 does not. Functional complementation studies in PEX19-deficient human fibroblasts revealed that transfection of PEX19DeltaE8-cDNA leads to restoration of both peroxisomal membranes and of functional peroxisomes, whereas transfection of PEX19DeltaE2-cDNA does not restore peroxisomal biogenesis. Human PEX19 is partly farnesylated in vitro and in vivo. The farnesylation consensus motif CLIM is located in the PEX19 domain D3. The finding that the protein derived from the splice variant lacking D3 is able to interact with several peroxisomal membrane proteins and to restore peroxisomal biogenesis challenges the previous assumption that farnesylation of PEX19 is essential for its biological functionality. The data presented demonstrate a considerable functional diversity of the proteins encoded by two PEX19 splice variants and thereby provide first experimental evidence for specific biological functions of the different predicted domains of the PEX19 protein.

  • Holzinger A, Roschinger W, Lagler F, Mayerhofer PU, Lichtner P, Kattenfeld T, Thuy LP, Nyhan WL, Koch HG, Muntau AC, Roscher AA. (2001) 'Cloning of the human MCCA and MCCB genes and mutations therein reveal the molecular cause of 3-methylcrotonyl-CoA: carboxylase deficiency'. Hum Mol Genet, 10, pp. 1299-1306.


    3-Methylcrotonyl-CoA: carboxylase (EC; MCC) deficiency is an inborn error of the leucine degradation pathway (MIM *210200) characterized by increased urinary excretion of 3-hydroxyisovaleric acid and 3-methylcrotonylglycine. The clinical phenotypes are highly variable ranging from asymptomatic to profound metabolic acidosis and death in infancy. Sequence similarity with Glycine max and Arabidopsis thaliana genes encoding the two subunits of MCC permitted us to clone the cDNAs encoding the alpha- and beta-subunits of human MCC. The 2580 bp MCCA cDNA encodes the 725 amino acid biotin-containing alpha-subunit. The MCCA gene is located on chromosome 3q26-q28 and consists of 19 exons. The 2304 bp MCCB cDNA encodes the non-biotin-containing beta-subunit of 563 amino acids. The MCCB gene is located on chromosome 5q13 and consists of 17 exons. We have sequenced both genes in four patients with isolated biotin-unresponsive deficiency of MCC. In two of them we found mutations in the MCCA gene. Compound heterozygosity for a missense mutation (S535F) and a nonsense mutation (V694X) were identified in one patient. One heterozygous mutation (S535F) was found in another patient. The remaining two patients had mutations in the MCCB gene. One consanguineous patient was homozygous for a missense mutation (R268T). In the other we identified a missense mutation in one allele (E99Q) and allelic loss of the other. Mutations were correlated with an almost total lack of enzyme activity in fibroblasts. These data provide evidence that human MCC deficiency is caused by mutations in either the MCCA or MCCB gene.

  • Roerig P, Mayerhofer P, Holzinger A, Gartner J. (2001) 'Characterization and functional analysis of the nucleotide binding fold in human peroxisomal ATP binding cassette transporters'. FEBS Lett, 492, pp. 66-72.


    The 70-kDa peroxisomal membrane protein (PMP70) and the adrenoleukodystrophy protein (ALDP) are half ATP binding cassette (ABC) transporters in the peroxisome membrane. Mutations in the ALD gene encoding ALDP result in the X-linked neurodegenerative disorder adrenoleukodystrophy. Plausible models exist to show a role for ATP hydrolysis in peroxisomal ABC transporter functions. Here, we describe the first measurements of the rate of ATP binding and hydrolysis by purified nucleotide binding fold (NBF) fusion proteins of PMP70 and ALDP. Both proteins act as an ATP specific binding subunit releasing ADP after ATP hydrolysis; they did not exhibit GTPase activity. Mutations in conserved residues of the nucleotidases (PMP70: G478R, S572I; ALDP: G512S, S606L) altered ATPase activity. Furthermore, our results indicate that these mutations do not influence homodimerization or heterodimerization of ALDP or PMP70. The study provides evidence that peroxisomal ABC transporters utilize ATP to become a functional transporter.

  • Muntau AC, Holzinger A, Mayerhofer PU, Gartner J, Roscher AA, Kammerer S. (2000) 'The human PEX3 gene encoding a peroxisomal assembly protein: genomic organization, positional mapping, and mutation analysis in candidate phenotypes'. Biochem Biophys Res Commun, 268, pp. 704-710.


    In yeasts, the peroxin Pex3p was identified as a peroxisomal integral membrane protein that presumably plays a role in the early steps of peroxisomal assembly. In humans, defects of peroxins cause peroxisomal biogenesis disorders such as Zellweger syndrome. We previously reported data on the human PEX3 cDNA and its protein, which in addition to the peroxisomal targeting sequence contains a putative endoplasmic reticulum targeting signal. Here we report the genomic organization, sequencing of the putative promoter region, chromosomal localization, and physical mapping of the human PEX3 gene. The gene is composed of 12 exons and 11 introns spanning a region of approximately 40 kb. The highly conserved putative promoter region is very GC rich, lacks typical TATA and CCAAT boxes, and contains potential Sp1, AP1, and AP2 binding sites. The gene was localized to chromosome 6q23-24 and D6S279 was identified to be the closest positional marker. As yeast mutants deficient in PEX3 have been shown to lack peroxisomes as well as any peroxisomal remnant structures, human PEX3 is a candidate gene for peroxisomal assembly disorders. Mutation analysis of the human PEX3 gene was therefore performed in fibroblasts from patients suffering from peroxisome biogenesis disorders. Complementation groups 1, 4, 7, 8, and 9 according to the numbering system of Kennedy Krieger Institute were analyzed but no difference to the wild-type sequence was detected. PEX3 mutations were therefore excluded as the molecular basis of the peroxisomal defect in these complementation groups.

  • Gloeckner CJ, Mayerhofer PU, Landgraf P, Muntau AC, Holzinger A, Gerber JK, Kammerer S, Adamski J, Roscher AA. (2000) 'Human adrenoleukodystrophy protein and related peroxisomal ABC transporters interact with the peroxisomal assembly protein PEX19p'. Biochem Biophys Res Commun, 271, pp. 144-150.


    Four ABC half transporters (ALDP, ALDRP, PMP70, and PMP69) have been identified in the mammalian peroxisomal membrane but no function has been unambiguously assigned to any of them. To date X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD) is the only human disease known to result from a defect of one of these ABC transporters, ALDP. Using the yeast two-hybrid system and in vitro GST pull-down assays, we identified the peroxin PEX19p as a novel interactor of ALDP, ALDRP, and PMP70. The cytosolic farnesylated protein PEX19p was previously shown to be involved in an early step of the peroxisomal biogenesis. The PEX19p interaction occurs in an internal N-terminal region of ALDP which we verified to be important for proper peroxisomal targeting of this protein. Farnesylated wild-type PEX19p and a farnesylation-deficient mutant PEX19p did not differ in their ability to bind to ALDP. Our data provide evidence that PEX19p is a cytosolic acceptor protein for the peroxisomal ABC transporters ALDP, PMP70, and ALDRP and might be involved in the intracellular sorting and trafficking of these proteins to the peroxisomal membrane.

  • Muntau AC, Mayerhofer PU, Albet S, Schmid TE, Bugaut M, Roscher AA, Kammerer S. (2000) 'Genomic organization, expression analysis, and chromosomal localization of the mouse PEX3 gene encoding a peroxisomal assembly protein'. Biol Chem, 381, pp. 337-342.


    The peroxin Pex3p has been identified as an integral peroxisomal membrane protein in yeast where pex3 mutants lack peroxisomal remnant structures. Although not proven in higher organisms, a role of this gene in the early peroxisome biogenesis is suggested. We report here the cDNA cloning and the genomic structure of the mouse PEX3 gene. The 2 kb cDNA encodes a polypeptide of 372 amino acids (42 kDa). The gene spans a region of 30 kb, contains 12 exons and 11 introns and is located on band A of chromosome 10. The putative promoter region exhibits characteristic housekeeping features. PEX3 expression was identified in all tissues analyzed, with the strongest signals in liver and in testis, and could not be induced by fenofibrate. The data presented may be useful for the generation of a mouse model defective in PEX3 in order to clarify the yet unknown functional impact of disturbances in early peroxisomal membrane assembly.

  • Muntau AC, Mayerhofer PU, Paton BC, Kammerer S, Roscher AA. (2000) 'Defective peroxisome membrane synthesis due to mutations in human PEX3 causes Zellweger syndrome, complementation group G'. Am J Hum Genet, 67, pp. 967-975.


    Zellweger cerebro-hepato-renal syndrome is a severe congenital disorder associated with defective peroxisomal biogenesis. At least 23 PEX genes have been reported to be essential for peroxisome biogenesis in various species, indicating the complexity of peroxisomal assembly. Cells from patients with peroxisomal biogenesis disorders have previously been shown to segregate into >/=12 complementation groups. Two patients assigned to complementation group G who had not been linked previously to a specific gene defect were confirmed as displaying a cellular phenotype characterized by a lack of even residual peroxisomal membrane structures. Here we demonstrate that this complementation group is associated with mutations in the PEX3 gene, encoding an integral peroxisomal membrane protein. Homozygous PEX3 mutations, each leading to C-terminal truncation of PEX3, were identified in the two patients, who both suffered from a severe Zellweger syndrome phenotype. One of the mutations involved a single-nucleotide insertion in exon 7, whereas the other was a single-nucleotide substitution eight nucleotides from the normal splice site in the 3' acceptor site of intron 10. Expression of wild-type PEX3 in the mutant cell lines restored peroxisomal biogenesis, whereas transfection of mutated PEX3 cDNA did not. This confirmed that the causative gene had been identified. The observation of peroxisomal formation in the absence of morphologically recognizable peroxisomal membranes challenges the theory that peroxisomes arise exclusively by growth and division from preexisting peroxisomes and establishes PEX3 as a key factor in early human peroxisome synthesis.

  • Holzinger A, Mayerhofer P, Berger J, Lichtner P, Kammerer S, Roscher AA. (1999) 'Full length cDNA cloning, promoter sequence, and genomic organization of the human adrenoleukodystrophy related (ALDR) gene functionally redundant to the gene responsible for X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy'. Biochem Biophys Res Commun, 258, pp. 436-442.


    X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD) is a functional defect of the ALD Protein (ALDP), an ABC half-transporter localized in the peroxisomal membrane. It is characterized by defective, very long chain fatty acid (VLCFA) beta-oxidation, resulting in progressive cerebral demyelination. Since individual mutations in the ALD gene may result in a variety of clinical phenotypes, the existence of modifying genetic factors has been proposed. The adrenoleukodystrophy related protein (ALDRP), a close homolog of ALDP, has been shown to complement the defect of VLCFA oxidation if transfected into X-ALD cells or chemically induced in ALDP-deficient mice. Chemical ALDRP induction holds a potential for a novel therapeutic strategy. We report here the exclusively peroxisomal localization of human ALDRP, the full length cDNA, the transcriptional start, and 2.4 kb of the putative promoter region DNA sequence. The human ALDR gene extends over 33 kb on chromosome 12q12 and consists of 10 exons. The gene structure is highly similar to the ALD gene, indicating a recent divergence from a common ancestor. The putative human promoter sequence contains a novel motif conserved in peroxisomal ABC transporters in the mouse. Our data will enable sequence analysis in X-ALD patients to determine a possible role of ALDRP as a modifier and provide tools for the study of therapeutic ALDRP induction.

  • Holzinger A, Muntau A, Mayerhofer P, Kammerer S, Albet S, Bugaut M, Roscher AA. (1998) 'The mouse gene encoding the peroxisomal membrane protein 1-like protein (PXMP1-L): cDNA cloning, genomic organization and comparative expression studies'. FEBS Lett, 433, pp. 179-183.


    PXMPI-L (synonyms: PMP69, P70R) is a peroxisomal protein that belongs to the ABC-transporter superfamily. Its closest homolog is the peroxisomal membrane protein 1 (PMP70). We have cloned the mouse PXMP1-L gene. It encodes a 606 amino acid protein. In contrast to the human and the rat, mouse PXMP1-L is predominantly expressed in the liver. The mouse PXMP1-L gene consists of 19 exons and spans 21 kb of genomic sequence. No obvious peroxisome proliferator response element has been found in 1.1 kb of the putative promoter region. No coordination of constitutive or fenofibrate-induced expression of PXMP1-L with other peroxisomal ABC transporters was observed so that an obligate exclusive heterodimer formation is not likely to occur. The data presented will be particularly useful for the generation of a mouse model defective in PXMP1-L in order to elucidate the yet unknown function of this protein.

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