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Eur J Biochem. 1987 Mar 2;163(2):433-42.

Fate of injected 125I-labeled cholera toxin taken up by rat liver in vivo. Generation of the active A1 peptide in the endosomal compartment.

Abstract

Subcellular fractionation techniques have been used to assess the localization of injected 125I-labeled cholera toxin (125I-CT) taken up by rat liver in vivo, and to determine whether internalization of the toxin is required for the generation of the active A1 peptide. The uptake of injected 125I-CT into the liver is maximal at 5 min (about 10% injected dose/g). At this time the radioactivity is for the most part recovered in the microsomal (P) fraction, but later on it progressively associates with the mitochondrial-lysosomal (ML) and supernatant fractions. The radioactivity is enriched 7-fold in plasma membranes at 5-15 min, and 15-60-fold in Golgi-endosome (GE) fractions at 15-60 min. On analytical sucrose gradients the radioactivity associated with the P fraction is progressively displaced from the region of 5'-nucleotidase (a plasma membrane marker) to that of galactosyltransferase (a Golgi marker). On Percoll gradients, however, it is displaced towards acid phosphatase (a lysosomal marker). Density-shift experiments, using Triton WR 1339, suggest that some radioactivity associated with the P fraction (at 30 min) and all the radioactivity present in the ML fraction (at 2 h) is intrinsic to acid-phosphatase-containing structures, presumably lysosomes. Comparable experiments using 3,3'-diaminobenzidine cytochemistry indicate that the radioactivity present in GE fractions is separable from galactosyltransferase, and thus is presumably associated with endosomes. The fate of injected 125I-labeled cholera toxin B subunit differs from that of the whole toxin by a more rapid uptake (and/or clearance) of the ligand into subcellular fractions, and a greater accumulation of ligand in the ML fraction. Analysis of GE fractions by SDS/polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis shows that, up to 10 min after injection of 125I-CT, about 80% of the radioactivity is recovered as A subunit and 20% as B subunit, similarly to control toxin. Later on there is a time-dependent decrease in the amount of A subunit and, at least with the intermediate GE fraction, a concomitant appearance of A1 peptide (about 15% of the total at 60 min). In contrast the radioactivity associated with plasma membranes remains indistinguishable from unused toxin. It is concluded that, upon interaction with hepatocytes, 125I-CT (both subunits A and B) sequentially associates with plasma membranes, endosomes and lysosomes, and that endosomes may represent the major subcellular site at which the A1 peptide is generated.

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