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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Nov 25;100(24):14012-7. Epub 2003 Nov 18.

Rab27b is associated with fusiform vesicles and may be involved in targeting uroplakins to urothelial apical membranes.

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Department of Cell Biology, New York University School of Medicine, 550 First Avenue, New York, NY 10016, USA.


The terminally differentiated umbrella cells of bladder epithelium contain unique cytoplasmic organelles, the fusiform vesicles, which deliver preassembled crystalline arrays of uroplakin proteins to the apical cell surface of urothelial umbrella cells. We have investigated the possible role of Rab proteins in this delivery process, and found Rab27b to be expressed at an extraordinary high level (0.1% of total protein) in urothelium, whereas Rab27b levels were greatly reduced (to <5% of normal urothelium) in cultured urothelial cells, which synthesized only small amounts of uroplakins and failed to form fusiform vesicles. Immuno-electron microscopy showed that Rab27b was associated with the cytoplasmic face of the fusiform vesicles, but not with that of the apical plasma membrane. The association of Rab27b with fusiform vesicles and its differentiation-dependent expression suggest that this Rab protein plays a role in regulating the delivery of fusiform vesicles to the apical plasma membrane of umbrella cells.

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