The biosynthesis, processing, and apical secretion of a group of polypeptides (Kondor-Koch, C., R. Bravo, S. D. Fuller, D. Cutler, and H. Garoff. 1985. Cell. 43:297-306) are studied in MDCK cells using a specific polyclonal antiserum. These polypeptides are synthesized as a precursor protein which has an apparent Mr of 65,000 in its high mannose form. This precursor is converted into a protein with an apparent Mr of 80,000 containing complex carbohydrates and sulfate. After intracellular cleavage of the 80-kD protein, the 35-45-kD subunits are secreted as an 80-kD glycoprotein complex (gp 80) linked together by disulfide bonds. Secretion of the protein complex occurs by a constitutive pathway at the apical surface of the epithelial monolayer. Since the immediate post-translational precursor, the 65-kD protein, is hydrophilic in nature as shown by its partitioning behavior in a phase-separated Triton X-114 solution, gp 80 is segregated into the apical exocytotic pathway as a soluble molecule. The proteolytic maturation of gp 80 is blocked in the presence of chloroquine and its secretion is retarded. The 80-kD precursor is released at the apical cell surface, demonstrating that proteolytic processing is not necessary for the apical secretion of this protein. If N-glycosylation is inhibited by tunicamycin treatment the protein is secreted in equal amounts at both cell surfaces, indicating a role of the carbohydrate moieties in the vectorial transport of this protein.

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