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Mol Biol Cell. Dec 1996; 7(12): 2007–2018.
PMCID: PMC276046

Differential localization of syntaxin isoforms in polarized Madin-Darby canine kidney cells.


Syntaxins, integral membrane proteins that are part of the ubiquitous membrane fusion machinery, are thought to act as target membrane receptors during the process of vesicle docking and fusion. Several isoforms of the syntaxin family have been previously identified in mammalian cells, some of which are localized to the plasma membrane. We investigated the subcellular localization of these putative plasma membrane syntaxins in polarized epithelial cells, which are characterized by the presence of distinct apical and basolateral plasma membrane domains. Syntaxins 2, 3, and 4 were found to be endogenously present in Madin-Darby canine kidney cells. The localization of syntaxins 1A, 1B, 2, 3, and 4 in stably transfected Madin-Darby canine kidney cell lines was studied with confocal immunofluorescence microscopy. Each syntaxin isoform was found to have a unique pattern of localization. Syntaxins 1A and 1B were present only in intracellular structures, with little or no apparent plasma membrane staining. In contrast, syntaxin 2 was found on both the apical and basolateral surface, whereas the plasma membrane localization of syntaxins 3 and 4 were restricted to the apical or basolateral domains, respectively. Syntaxins are therefore the first known components of the plasma membrane fusion machinery that are differentially localized in polarized cells, suggesting that they may play a central role in targeting specificity.

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