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Cysteine String Proteins.

Cysteine string protein (CSP) was discovered by use of a synapse-specific, monoclonal antibody to screen a cDNA expression library in Drosophila. A vertebrate CSP homolog was later identified and shown to co-purify with synaptic vesicles. CSP-α is now recognized as a membrane constituent of many regulated secretory organelles. Knockout of the csp gene in Drosophila produced temperature-sensitive paralysis reflecting a loss of evoked (but not spontaneous) transmitter release. However, CSP's role in regulated exocytosis remains ambiguous. Fruit flies lacking the csp gene also exhibited nerve terminal degeneration as did mice deficient in the csp-α gene. This phenotype has been ascribed to the depletion of a functional pool of the t-SNARE, SNAP-25. However, recent studies showing that an endosomal pool of CSP-α contributes to a novel, protein-export pathway argues that CSP's role in neurodegeneration is more complex. Clients of this later pathway include tau and α-synuclein, proteins linked to neurodegeneration. Additionally, mutations in the csp-α gene cause an adult-onset, neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis and diminished CSP-α expression is an early event in Alzheimer's disease. Collectively, these findings indicate that much remains to be learned about the role of CSPs in cellular secretory pathways and human disease.

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