Prosaposin: a protein with differential sorting and multiple functions

Histol Histopathol. 2015 Jun;30(6):647-60. doi: 10.14670/HH-30.647. Epub 2014 Dec 18.


In eukaryotes the delivery of newly synthesized proteins to their final destination is dependent on a series of functionally distinct compartments, including the endoplasmic reticulum and the Golgi apparatus, which plays a role in post-translational modification, sorting and distribution of proteins. Most cargo is sorted within, and exits from, the trans-Golgi network (TGN). Proteins delivered to lysosomes include hydrolytic enzymes and nonenzymic activator proteins. They are directed away from the cell surface by their binding to mannose-6-phosphate receptors (MPR). However, in I-cell disease, in which the MPR pathway is disrupted, the nonenzymic sphingolipid activator protein, prosaposin, continue to traffic to lysosomes. This observation led to discovery of a new lysosomal sorting receptor, sortilin. The targeting prosaposin to the lysosomes results from the interaction of its C-terminus with sortilin. Deletion of the C-terminus did not interfere with its secretion, but abolished its transport to the lysosomes. Mutational analysis revealed that the first half of the prosaposin C-terminus contains a motif required for its binding to sortilin and its transport to the lysosomes. Prosaposin can be also secreted to the extracellular space as oligomers. Extracellular prosaposin showed to exert a variety of responses in nervous tissues including the activation of G protein-coupled receptors and ERK phosphorylation. Lastly, prosaposin has been found to be expressed in other fluids of the body such as pancreatic juice, bile, cerebrospinal fluid, milk and seminal fluid, indicating that prosaposin is not only a house keeping lysosomal protein but an essential factor in the development and maintenance of the nervous systems and other systems of the body.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism*
  • Golgi Apparatus / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lysosomes / metabolism*
  • Protein Transport
  • Saposins / metabolism*


  • PSAP protein, human
  • Saposins