Sorting mechanisms regulating membrane protein traffic in the apical transcytotic pathway of polarized MDCK cells. Academic Article uri icon


  • The transcytotic pathway followed by the polymeric IgA receptor (pIgR) carrying its bound ligand (dIgA) from the basolateral to the apical surface of polarized MDCK cells has been mapped using morphological tracers. At 20 degreesC dIgA-pIgR internalize to interconnected groups of vacuoles and tubules that comprise the endosomal compartment and in which they codistribute with internalized transferrin receptors (TR) and epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFR). Upon transfer to 37 degreesC the endosome vacuoles develop long tubules that give rise to a distinctive population of 100-nm-diam cup-shaped vesicles containing pIgR. At the same time, the endosome gives rise to multivesicular endosomes (MVB) enriched in EGFR and to 60-nm-diam basolateral vesicles. The cup-shaped vesicles carry the dIgA/pIgR complexes to the apical surface where they exocytose. Using video microscopy and correlative electron microscopy to study cells grown thin and flat we show that endosome vacuoles tubulate in response to dIgA/pIgR but that the tubules contain TR as well as pIgR. However, we show that TR are removed from these dIgA-induced tubules via clathrin-coated buds and, as a result, the cup-shaped vesicles to which the tubules give rise become enriched in dIgA/pIgR. Taken together with the published information available on pIgR trafficking signals, our observations suggest that the steady-state concentrations of TR and unoccupied pIgR on the basolateral surface of polarized MDCK cells are maintained by a signal-dependent, clathrin-based sorting mechanism that operates along the length of the transcytotic pathway. We propose that the differential sorting of occupied receptors within the MDCK endosome is achieved by this clathrin-based mechanism continuously retrieving receptors like TR from the pathways that deliver pIgR to the apical surface and EGFR to the lysosome.

published proceedings

  • J Cell Biol

author list (cited authors)

  • Gibson, A., Futter, C. E., Maxwell, S., Allchin, E. H., Shipman, M., Kraehenbuhl, J. P., ... Hopkins, C. R.

citation count

  • 90

complete list of authors

  • Gibson, A||Futter, CE||Maxwell, S||Allchin, EH||Shipman, M||Kraehenbuhl, JP||Domingo, D||Odorizzi, G||Trowbridge, IS||Hopkins, CR

publication date

  • October 1998