ESCargo: a regulatable fluorescent secretory cargo for diverse model organisms

Mol Biol Cell. 2020 Dec 15;31(26):2892-2903. doi: 10.1091/mbc.E20-09-0591. Epub 2020 Oct 28.


Membrane traffic can be studied by imaging a cargo protein as it transits the secretory pathway. The best tools for this purpose initially block export of the secretory cargo from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and then release the block to generate a cargo wave. However, previously developed regulatable secretory cargoes are often tricky to use or specific for a single model organism. To overcome these hurdles for budding yeast, we recently optimized an artificial fluorescent secretory protein that exits the ER with the aid of the Erv29 cargo receptor, which is homologous to mammalian Surf4. The fluorescent secretory protein forms aggregates in the ER lumen and can be rapidly disaggregated by addition of a ligand to generate a nearly synchronized cargo wave. Here we term this regulatable secretory protein ESCargo (Erv29/Surf4-dependent secretory cargo) and demonstrate its utility not only in yeast cells, but also in cultured mammalian cells, Drosophila cells, and the ciliate Tetrahymena thermophila. Kinetic studies indicate that rapid export from the ER requires recognition by Erv29/Surf4. By choosing an appropriate ER signal sequence and expression vector, this simple technology can likely be used with many model organisms.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila melanogaster / cytology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Protein Transport
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism
  • Secretory Pathway*
  • Tetrahymena / metabolism


  • Proteins