Mechanism of membrane anchoring affects polarized expression of two proteins in MDCK cells

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Science  29 Sep 1989:
Vol. 245, Issue 4925, pp. 1499-1501
DOI: 10.1126/science.2571189


The signals that direct membrane proteins to the apical or basolateral plasma membrane domains of polarized epithelial cells are not known. Several of the class of proteins anchored in the membrane by glycosyl-phosphatidylinositol (GPI) are expressed on the apical surface of such cells. However, it is not known whether the mechanism of membrane anchorage or the polypeptide sequence provides the sorting information. The conversion of the normally basolateral vesicular stomatitis virus glycoprotein (VSV G) to a GPI-anchored protein led to its apical expression. Conversely, replacement of the GPI anchor of placental alkaline phosphatase with the transmembrane and cytoplasmic domains of VSV G shifted its expression from the apical to the basolateral surface. Thus, the mechanism of membrane anchorage can determine the sorting of proteins to the apical or basolateral surface, and the GPI anchor itself may provide an apical transport signal.

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