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J Cell Biol. 1998 Sep 7;142(5):1245-56.

The cytoplasmic tail of rhodopsin acts as a novel apical sorting signal in polarized MDCK cells.

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  • 1Department of Ophthalmology, The Margaret M. Dyson Vision Research Institute, Cornell University Medical College, New York 10021, USA.


All basolateral sorting signals described to date reside in the cytoplasmic domain of proteins, whereas apical targeting motifs have been found to be lumenal. In this report, we demonstrate that wild-type rhodopsin is targeted to the apical plasma membrane via the TGN upon expression in polarized epithelial MDCK cells. Truncated rhodopsin with a deletion of 32 COOH-terminal residues shows a nonpolar steady-state distribution. Addition of the COOH-terminal 39 residues of rhodopsin redirects the basolateral membrane protein CD7 to the apical membrane. Fusion of rhodopsin's cytoplasmic tail to a cytosolic protein glutathione S-transferase (GST) also targets this fusion protein (GST-Rho39Tr) to the apical membrane. The targeting of GST-Rho39Tr requires both the terminal 39 amino acids and the palmitoylation membrane anchor signal provided by the rhodopsin sequence. The apical transport of GST-Rho39Tr can be reversibly blocked at the Golgi complex by low temperature and can be altered by brefeldin A treatment. This indicates that the membrane-associated GST-Rho39Tr protein may be sorted along a yet unidentified pathway that is similar to the secretory pathway in polarized MDCK cells. We conclude that the COOH-terminal tail of rhodopsin contains a novel cytoplasmic apical sorting determinant. This finding further indicates that cytoplasmic sorting machinery may exist in MDCK cells for some apically targeted proteins, analogous to that described for basolaterally targeted proteins.

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