A yeast model system for functional analysis of the Niemann-Pick type C protein 1 homolog, Ncr1p

Traffic. 2005 Oct;6(10):907-17. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0854.2005.00327.x.


Niemann-Pick disease type C (NP-C) is a progressive, ultimately fatal, autosomal recessive neurodegenerative disorder. The major biochemical hallmark of the disease is the endocytic accumulation of low-density lipoprotein-derived cholesterol. The majority of NP-C patients have mutations in the Niemann-Pick type C1 gene, NPC1. This study focuses on the Saccharomyces cerevisiae homolog of the human NPC1 protein encoded by the NCR1 gene. Ncr1p localizes to the vacuole, the yeast equivalent to the mammalian endosome-lysosome system. Here, we identify the first phenotype caused by deletion of NCR1 from the yeast genome, resistance to the ether lipid drug, edelfosine. Our results indicate that edelfosine has a cytotoxic, rather than cytostatic, effect on wildtype yeast cells. We exploit the edelfosine resistance phenotype to assess the function of yeast Ncr1 proteins carrying amino acid changes corresponding to human NPC1 patient mutations. We find that one of these amino acid changes severely compromises Ncr1p function as assessed using the edelfosine resistance assay. These findings establish S. cerevisiae as a model system that can be exploited to analyze the molecular consequences of patient mutations in NPC1 and provide the basis for future genetic studies using yeast.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Drug Resistance, Fungal
  • Humans
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / genetics
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Phenotype
  • Phospholipid Ethers / pharmacology
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / drug effects
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / metabolism*
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Vesicular Transport Proteins


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • NCR1 protein, S cerevisiae
  • Phospholipid Ethers
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • Vesicular Transport Proteins
  • edelfosine