It is well established that when cystine-depleted cystinotic cells are cultured in cystine-containing medium, they reaccumulate cystine within their lysosomes more rapidly than when cultured in cystine-free medium. This has been a puzzling result, since the lysosome membrane of cystinotic cells is impermeable to cystine. To probe the mechanism of cystine reaccumulation, we have measured reaccumulation in the presence of colchicine, an inhibitor of pinocytosis, or of glutamate, a competitive inhibitor of cystine transport into human fibroblasts. Colchicine had no effect, thus eliminating pinocytosis as a putative mechanism for cystine translocation from the culture medium to the lysosomes. Glutamate, however, strongly inhibited cystine reaccumulation. It is concluded that the true mechanism is as follows. 1. Exogenous cystine crosses the plasma membrane on the cystine-glutamate porter. 2. Cystine is reduced in the cytoplasm by GSH. 3. The cysteine that is generated enters the lysosome, where it becomes cystine by participating in the reduction of cystine residues during intralysosomal proteolysis, or by autoxidation.

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