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FEBS Lett. 2007 May 1;581(9):1783-7. Epub 2007 Apr 4.

GM1 and GM3 gangliosides highlight distinct lipid microdomains within the apical domain of epithelial cells.

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Tissue Engineering Laboratories, BIOTEC, Tatzberg 47-51, Technische Universität Dresden, 01307 Dresden, Germany.


The apical domain of epithelial cells is composed of distinct subdomains such as microvilli, primary cilia and a non-protruding region. Using the cholesterol-binding protein prominin-1 as a specific marker of plasma membrane protrusions we have previously proposed the co-existence of different cholesterol-based lipid microdomains (lipid rafts) within the apical domain [Röper, K., Corbeil, D. and Huttner, W.B. (2000), Retention of prominin in microvilli reveals distinct cholesterol-based lipid microdomains in the apical plasma membrane. Nat. Cell Biol. 2, 582-592]. To substantiate the hypothesis that the microvillar plasma membrane subdomains contain a distinct set of lipids compared to the planar portion we have investigated the distribution of prominin-1 and two raft-associated gangliosides GM(1) and GM(3) by fluorescence microscopy. GM(1) was found to co-localize with prominin-1 on microvilli whereas GM(3) was segregated from there suggesting its localization in the planar region. Regarding the primary cilium, overlapping fluorescent signals of GM(1) or GM(3) and prominin-1 were observed. Thus, our data demonstrate that specific ganglioside-enriched rafts are found in different apical subdomains and reveal that two plasma membrane protrusions with different structural bases (actin for the microvillus and tubulin for the cilium) are composed of distinct types of lipid.

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