The green fluorescent protein targets secretory proteins to the yeast vacuole

Biochim Biophys Acta. 1999 Mar 9;1410(3):287-98. doi: 10.1016/s0005-2728(99)00006-7.


The green fluorescent protein (GFP) was used as a marker to study the intracellular transport of vacuolar and secretory proteins in yeast. Therefore, the following gene constructs were expressed in Saccharomyces cerevisiae under control of the GAL1 promoter: GFP N-terminally fused to the yeast secretory invertase (INV-GFP), the plant vacuolar chitinase (CHN-GFP) and its secretory derivative (CHNDeltaVTP-GFP), which did not contain the vacuolar targeting peptide (VTP), both chitinase forms (CHN and CHNDeltaVTP), GFP without any targeting information and two secretory GFP variants with and without the VTP of chitinase (N-GFP-V and N-GFP). Whereas chitinase without VTP is accumulated in the culture medium the other gene products are retained inside the cell up to 48 h of induction. Independently of a known VTP they are transported to the vacuole, so far as they contain a signal peptide for entering the endoplasmic reticulum. This was demonstrated by confocal laser scanning microscopy, immunocytochemical analysis and subcellular fractionation experiments as well. The transport of the GFP fusion proteins is temporary delayed by a transient accumulation in electron-dense structures very likely derived from the ER, because they also contain the ER chaperone Kar2p/Bip. Our results demonstrate that GFP directs secretory proteins without VTP to the yeast vacuole, possibly by the recognition of an unknown vacuolar signal and demonstrates, therefore, a first limitation for the application of GFP as a marker for the secretory pathway in yeast.