Clusterin (apolipoprotein J) is a 75 - 80 kDa disulfide-linked heterodimeric protein associated with the clearance of cellular debris and apoptosis. In humans, clusterin is encoded by the CLUgene.
This protein has several synonyms: dimeric acidic glycoprotein (DAG protein), testosterone repressed prostate message-2 (TRPM-2), sulfated glycoprotein-2 (SGP-2) and complement lysis inhibitor (CLI).
Clusterin was first identified in ram rete testis fluid where it showed signs of clustering with rat sertoli cells and erythrocytes, hence its name.
In humans the gene is encoded on chromosome 8 (8p21) and is highly conserved between species (70-80% homology). It is expressed in most mammalian tissues and can be found in blood plasma, milk, urine, cerebrospinal fluid and semen. A number of proteins have been found to affect its expression including Egr-1, members from the AP-1 complex, HSF1/2, Cdx1/2 and B-Myb.
The protein itself is a disulfide-linked heterodimeric protein containing about 30% of N-linked carbohydrate rich in sialic acid. Truncated forms targeted to the nucleus have also been identified. The precursor polypeptide chain is cleaved proteolytically to remove the 22 amino acid secretory signal peptide and subsequently between residues 227/228 to generate the alpha and beta chains. These are assembled in an anti-parallel fashion to give a heterodimeric molecule in which the cysteine-rich centers are linked by five disulfide bridges and are flanked by two predicted coiled-coil alpha-helices and three predicted amphipathic alpha-helices.
The mature protein appears as a ≈40 kDa smear on immunoblots from reducing SDS-PAGE. The precursor form appears as a 60 kDa protein.
The protein has been implicated in a variety of activities including programmed cell death, regulation of complement mediated cell lysis, membrane recycling, cell-cell adhesion and src induced transformation. As a part of the attack complex of complement, it acts as a complement inhibitor.
Two independent genome-wide association studies found a statistical association between a SNP within the clusterin gene and the risk of having Alzheimer's disease. Further studies have suggested that people who already have Alzheimer's disease have more clusterin in their blood, and that clusterin levels in blood correlate with faster cognitive decline in individuals with Alzheimer's disease, but have not found that clusterin levels predicted the onset of Alzheimer's disease.
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Chandra P, Plaza JA, Zuo Z et al. (2009). "Clusterin expression correlates with stage and presence of large cells in mycosis fungoides". Am. J. Clin. Pathol.131 (4): 511–515. doi:10.1309/AJCPH43ZDVLSOSNB. PMID19289586.
Rizzi F, Caccamo AE, Belloni L, Bettuzzi S (2009). "Clusterin is a short half-life, poly-ubiquitinated protein, which controls the fate of prostate cancer cells". J. Cell. Physiol.219 (2): 314–323. doi:10.1002/jcp.21671. PMID19137541.
Liao FT, Lee YJ, Ko JL et al. (2009). "Hepatitis delta virus epigenetically enhances clusterin expression via histone acetylation in human hepatocellular carcinoma cells". J. Gen. Virol.90 (Pt 5): 1124–1134. doi:10.1099/vir.0.007211-0. PMID19264665.
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