Clusterin facilitates in vivo clearance of extracellular misfolded proteins

Amy R. Wyatt, Justin J. Yerbury, Paula J. Berghofer, Ivan D. Greguric, Andrew G. Katsifis, Christopher Martin Dobson, Mark R. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Citations (Scopus)


The extracellular deposition of misfolded proteins is a characteristic of many debilitating age-related disorders. However, little is known about the specific mechanisms that act to suppress this process in vivo. Clusterin (CLU) is an extracellular chaperone that forms stable and soluble complexes with misfolded client proteins. Here we explore the fate of complexes formed between CLU and misfolded proteins both in vitro and in a living organism. We show that proteins injected into rats are cleared more rapidly from circulation when complexed with CLU as a result of their more efficient localization to the liver and that this clearance is delayed by pre-injection with the scavenger receptor inhibitor fucoidan. The CLU-client complexes were found to bind preferentially, in a fucoidan-inhibitable manner, to human peripheral blood monocytes and isolated rat hepatocytes and in the latter cell type were internalized and targeted to lysosomes for degradation. The data suggest, therefore, that CLU plays a key role in an extracellular proteostasis system that recognizes, keeps soluble, and then rapidly mediates the disposal of misfolded proteins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3919-3931
Number of pages13
JournalCellular and Molecular Life Sciences
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011


  • Clearance
  • Clusterin
  • Extracellular chaperone
  • Misfolded protein
  • Receptor-mediated endocytosis


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