Nonpolarized cells selectively sort apical proteins from cell surface to a novel compartment, but lack apical retention mechanisms

Pamela L. Tuma, Lydia K. Nyasae, Ann L. Hubbard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Membrane trafficking is central to establishing and maintaining epithelial cell polarity. One open question is to what extent the mechanisms regulating membrane trafficking are conserved between nonpolarized and polarized cells. To answer this question, we examined the dynamics of domain-specific plasma membrane (PM) proteins in three classes of hepatic cells: polarized and differentiated WIF-B cells, nonpolarized and differentiated Fao cells, and nonpolarized and nondifferentiated Clone 9 cells. In nonpolarized cells, mature apical proteins were uniformly distributed in the PM. Surprisingly, they were also in an intracellular compartment. Double labeling revealed that the compartment contained only apical proteins. By monitoring the dynamics of antibody-labeled molecules in nonpolarized cells, we further found that apical proteins rapidly recycled between the compartment and PM. In contrast, the apical PM residents in polarized cells showed neither internalization nor return to the basolateral PM from which they had originally come. Cytochalasin D treatment of these polarized cells revealed that the retention mechanisms are actin dependent. We conclude from these data that both polarized and nonpolarized cells selectively sort apical proteins from the PM and transport them to specific, but different cellular locations. We propose that the intracellular recycling compartment in nonpolarized cells is an intermediate in apical surface formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3400-3415
Number of pages16
JournalMolecular biology of the cell
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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