Insulin-degrading enzyme is exported via an unconventional protein secretion pathway

Ji Zhao, Lilin Li, Malcolm A. Leissring

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Insulin-degrading enzyme (IDE) is a ubiquitously expressed zinc-metalloprotease that degrades several pathophysiologically significant extracellular substrates, including insulin and the amyloid -protein (A), and accumulating evidence suggests that IDE dysfunction may be operative in both type 2 diabetes mellitus and Alzheimer disease (AD). Although IDE is well known to be secreted by a variety of cell types, the underlying trafficking pathway(s) remain poorly understood. To address this topic, we investigated the effects of known inhibitors or stimulators of protein secretion on the secretion of IDE from murine hepatocytes and HeLa cells. IDE secretion was found to be unaffected by the classical secretion inhibitors brefeldin A (BFA), monensin, or nocodazole, treatments that readily inhibited the secretion of 1-antitrypsin (AAT) overexpressed in the same cells. Using a novel cell-based A-degradation assay, we show further that IDE secretion was similarly unaffected by multiple stimulators of protein secretion, including glyburide and 3'-O-(4-benzoyl) benzoyl-ATP (Bz-ATP). The calcium ionophore, A23187, increased extracellular IDE activity, but only under conditions that also elicited cytotoxicity. Our results provide the first biochemical evidence that IDE export is not dependent upon the classical secretion pathway, thereby identifying IDE as a novel member of the select class of unconventionally secreted proteins. Further elucidation of the mechanisms underlying IDE secretion, which would be facilitated by the assays described herein, promises to uncover processes that might be defective in disease or manipulated for therapeutic benefit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4
JournalMolecular neurodegeneration
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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