Contamination of nuclear fractions with plasma membrane lipid rafts

Yee How Say, Nigel M. Hooper

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Subcellular fractionation is central to a range of cell biological, biochemical and proteomic studies. Purification of nuclear-enriched fractions is critical for studies on nuclear structure and function. Here we show that detergent-based nuclear isolation methods cause the redistribution of proteins associated with plasma membrane lipid rafts into nuclear fractions. The glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored prion protein (PrPC) and a GPI-anchored construct of angiotensin converting enzyme (GPI-ACE), as well as the lipid raft markers flotillin-1 and -2, were present in the nuclear fractions derived using three different subcellular fractionation protocols. Incubation of intact cells with bacterial phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C (PI-PLC), which cleaves GPI-anchored proteins from the cell surface, significantly reduced the amount of PrPC and GPI-ACE in the nuclear fraction. Buoyant sucrose density gradient centrifugation in the presence of Triton X-100 of the nuclear fraction resulted in a significant proportion of the GPI-anchored proteins being recovered in the low density lipid raft fractions. These data indicate that the nuclear fraction isolated using such subcellular fractionation protocols is contaminated with components of plasma membrane lipid rafts and raises questions as to the integrity of the nuclear fraction isolated by such protocols for use in detailed cell biological studies and proteomics analysis. © 2007 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1059-1064
    Number of pages5
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2007


    • GPI anchor
    • Lipid raft
    • Nuclear fraction
    • Subcellular fractionation

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