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Curr Biol. 2001 Sep 18;11(18):1444-50.

Apical membrane proteins are transported in distinct vesicular carriers.

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Department of Physiological Chemistry, School of Veterinary Medicine, Hannover, Germany.


The function of polarized epithelial cells and neurons is achieved through intracellular sorting mechanisms that recognize classes of proteins in the trans-Golgi network (TGN) and deliver them into separate vesicles for transport to the correct surface domain. Some proteins are delivered to the apical membrane after their association with membrane detergent-insoluble glycophosphatidylinositol/cholesterol (DIG) membrane microdomains [1], while some do not associate with DIGs [2-4]. However, it is not clear if this represents transport by two different pathways or if it can be explained by differences in the affinity of individual proteins for DIGs. Here, we investigate the different trafficking mechanisms of two apically sorted proteins, the DIG-associated sucrase-isomaltase (SI) and lactase-phlorizin hydrolase, which uses a DIG-independent pathway [5]. These proteins were tagged with YFP or CFP, and their trafficking in live cells was visualized using confocal laser microscopy. We demonstrate that each protein is localized to distinct subdomains in the same transport vesicle. A striking triangular pattern of concentration of the DIG-associated SI in subvesicular domains was observed. The original vesicles partition into smaller carriers containing either sucrase-isomaltase or lactase-phlorizin hydrolase, but not both, demonstrating for the first time a post-TGN segregation step and transport of apical proteins in different vesicular carriers.

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