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Mol Biol Cell. Mar 1997; 8(3): 517–532.
PMCID: PMC276101

Endocytic trafficking of megalin/RAP complexes: dissociation of the complexes in late endosomes.


Megalin (gp330) is a member of the low-density lipoprotein receptor gene family. Like other members of the family, it is an endocytic receptor that binds a number of specific ligands. Megalin also binds the receptor-associated protein (RAP) that serves as an exocytic traffic chaperone and inhibits ligand binding to the receptor. To investigate the fate of megalin/RAP complexes, we bound RAP glutathione-S-transferase fusion protein (RAP-GST) to megalin at the surface of L2 yolk sac carcinoma cells and followed the trafficking of the complexes by immunofluorescence and immunogold labeling and by their distribution on Percoll gradients. We show that megalin/RAP-GST complexes, which are internalized via clathrin-coated pits, are delivered to early endosomes where they accumulate during an 18 degrees C temperature block and colocalize with transferrin and transferrin receptor. Upon release from the temperature block, the complexes travel to late endosomes where they colocalize with rab7 and can be coprecipitated with anti-RAP-GST antibodies. Dissociation of the complex occurs in late endosomes and is most likely triggered by the low pH (approximately 5.5) of this compartment. RAP is then rapidly delivered to lysosomes and degraded whereas megalin is recycled to the cell surface. When the ligand, lipoprotein lipase, was bound to megalin, the receptor was found to recycle through early endosomes. We conclude that in contrast to receptor/ligand complexes, megalin/RAP complexes traffic through late endosomes, which is a novelty for members of the low-density lipoprotein receptor gene family.

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