Polycystin-1 (PC1), the PKD1 gene product, plays a critical role in renal tubule diameter control and disruption of its function causes cyst formation in human autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease. Recent evidence shows that PC1 undergoes cleavage at the juxtamembrane G protein-coupled receptor proteolytic site (GPS), a process likely to be essential for its biological activity. Here we further characterized the proteolytic cleavage of PC1 at the GPS domain. We determined the actual cleavage site to be between leucine and threonine of the tripeptide HLT3049 of human PC1. Cleavage occurs in the early intracellular secretory pathway and requires initial N-glycan attachment but not its subsequent trimming. We provide evidence that the cleavage occurs via a cis-autoproteolytic mechanism involving an ester intermediate as shown for Ntn hydrolases and EMR2.
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