The polarized delivery of membrane proteins to the cell surface and the initial secretion of lysosomal proteins into the culture medium were studied in the polarized human intestinal adenocarcinoma cell line Caco-2 in the presence or absence of the microtubule-active drug nocodazole. The appearance of newly synthesized proteins at the plasma membrane was measured by their sensitivity to proteases added either to the apical or the basolateral surface of cells grown on nitrocellulose filters. Nocodazole was found to reduce the delivery to the cell surface of an apical membrane protein, aminopeptidase N, and to lead to its partial missorting to the basolateral surface, whereas the drug had no influence on the delivery of a basolateral 120-kD membrane protein defined by a monoclonal antibody. Furthermore, nocodazole selectively blocked the apical secretion of two lysosomal proteins, cathepsin D and acid alpha-glucosidase, whereas the drug had no influence on their basolateral secretion. These results suggest that in Caco-2 cells an intact microtubular network is important for the transport of newly synthesized proteins to the apical cell surface.

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