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Mol Biol Cell. 2012 Apr;23(7):1354-66. doi: 10.1091/mbc.E11-09-0823. Epub 2012 Feb 9.

MAL facilitates the incorporation of exocytic uroplakin-delivering vesicles into the apical membrane of urothelial umbrella cells.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology, NYU Cancer Institute, NYU Langone Medical Center, New York University, New York, NY 10016, USA.


The apical surface of mammalian bladder urothelium is covered by large (500-1000 nm) two-dimensional (2D) crystals of hexagonally packed 16-nm uroplakin particles (urothelial plaques), which play a role in permeability barrier function and uropathogenic bacterial binding. How the uroplakin proteins are delivered to the luminal surface is unknown. We show here that myelin-and-lymphocyte protein (MAL), a 17-kDa tetraspan protein suggested to be important for the apical sorting of membrane proteins, is coexpressed with uroplakins in differentiated urothelial cell layers. MAL depletion in Madin-Darby canine kidney cells did not affect, however, the apical sorting of uroplakins, but it decreased the rate by which uroplakins were inserted into the apical surface. Moreover, MAL knockout in vivo led to the accumulation of fusiform vesicles in mouse urothelial superficial umbrella cells, whereas MAL transgenic overexpression in vivo led to enhanced exocytosis and compensatory endocytosis, resulting in the accumulation of the uroplakin-degrading multivesicular bodies. Finally, although MAL and uroplakins cofloat in detergent-resistant raft fractions, they are associated with distinct plaque and hinge membrane subdomains, respectively. These data suggest a model in which 1) MAL does not play a role in the apical sorting of uroplakins; 2) the propensity of uroplakins to polymerize forming 16-nm particles and later large 2D crystals that behave as detergent-resistant (giant) rafts may drive their apical targeting; 3) the exclusion of MAL from the expanding 2D crystals of uroplakins explains the selective association of MAL with the hinge areas in the uroplakin-delivering fusiform vesicles, as well as at the apical surface; and 4) the hinge-associated MAL may play a role in facilitating the incorporation of the exocytic uroplakin vesicles into the corresponding hinge areas of the urothelial apical surface.

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