We have used temperature and nocodazole blocks in an in vivo basolateral to apical transcytosis assay to dissociate the early transcytotic steps occurring during the formation of transcytotic vesicles and their microtubule-dependent translocation into the apical region, from the late steps when transcytotic cargo is delivered into the apical media. We found that polarized MDCK cells transfected with rabbit polymeric IgA receptor (pIgA-R) internalize basolaterally added pIgA-R ligand ([Fab]2 fragment of IgG against the receptor's ectodomain) at 17 degrees C but do not deliver it to the apical PM. Instead, the ligand accumulates in an apically localized transcytotic compartment, distal to the basolateral endosome and the microtubule-requiring translocation step. We have characterized this compartment and show that it is distinct from basolateral transferrin recycling endosomes, basolateral early endosomes or late endosomes or lysosomes. The apical transcytotic compartment colocalizes with the compartment containing apically recycling membrane markers (ricin and apically internalized pIgA-R ligand) but is distinct from the compartment receiving apically internalized fluid phase marker (BSA). This compartment is an intermediate station of the overall pathway since transcytotic ligand can exit the compartment and be released into the apical medium when cells preloaded at 17 degrees C are subsequently incubated at 37 degrees C. We have used this system to examine the effect of Brefeldin A (BFA) and the involvement of trimeric GTPases in the late (post apical transcytotic compartment) steps of the transcytotic pathway. We found that addition of BFA or cholera toxin, a known activator of Gs alpha, to cells preloaded with transcytotic ligand at 17 degrees C significantly inhibits the exit of ligand from the apical transcytotic compartment. General structure and function of the apical endosome are not affected since neither BFA nor cholera toxin inhibit the recycling of apically internalized membrane markers (ricin and pIgA-R ligand) from the same compartment. The data suggest that transcytosis connects the "membrane-sorting" sub-domain of the basolateral endosome with a homologous sub-domain of the apical endosome and that exit of transcytosing cargo from the apical endosome is controlled by a BFA and trimeric G protein sensitive mechanism, distinct from that used for recycling of apically internalized proteins (ricin or pIgA-R).

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