Fifteen years ago, we had a model of peroxisome biogenesis that involved growth and division of preexisting peroxisomes. Today, thanks to genetically tractable model organisms and Chinese hamster ovary cells, 23 genes have been cloned that encode the machinery (“peroxins”) required to assemble the organelle. Membrane assembly and maintenance requires three of these (peroxins 3, 16, and 19) and may occur without the import of the matrix (lumen) enzymes. Matrix protein import follows a branched pathway of soluble recycling receptors, with one branch for each class of peroxisome targeting sequence (two are well characterized), and a common trunk for all. At least one of these receptors, Pex5p, enters and exits peroxisomes as it functions. Proliferation of the organelle is regulated by Pex11p. Peroxisome biogenesis is remarkably conserved among eukaryotes. A group of fatal, inherited neuropathologies are recognized as peroxisome biogenesis diseases; the responsible genes are orthologs of yeast or Chinese hamster ovary peroxins. Future studies must address the mechanism by which folded, oligomeric enzymes enter the organelle, how the peroxisome divides, and how it segregates at cell division. Most mutants contain largely empty membrane “ghosts” of peroxisomes; a few mutants apparently lacking peroxisomes entirely have led some to propose the de novo formation of the organelle. However, there is evidence for residual peroxisome membrane vesicles (“protoperoxisomes”) in some of these, and the preponderance of data supports the continuity of the peroxisome compartment in space and time and between generations of cells.

Keyword(s): organelle assemblyperoxinPEX

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  • Article Type: Review Article
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