Immunoisolation techniques have led to the purification of apical and basolateral transport vesicles that mediate the delivery of proteins from the trans-Golgi network to the two plasma membrane domains of MDCK cells. We showed previously that these transport vesicles can be formed and released in the presence of ATP from mechanically perforated cells (Bennett, M. K., A. Wandinger-Ness, and K. Simons, 1988. EMBO (Euro. Mol. Biol. Organ.) J. 7:4075-4085). Using virally infected cells, we have monitored the purification of the trans-Golgi derived vesicles by following influenza hemagglutinin or vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) G protein as apical and basolateral markers, respectively. Equilibrium density gradient centrifugation revealed that hemagglutinin containing vesicles had a slightly lower density than those containing VSV-G protein, indicating that the two fractions were distinct. Antibodies directed against the cytoplasmically exposed domains of the viral spike glycoproteins permitted the resolution of apical and basolateral vesicle fractions. The immunoisolated vesicles contained a subset of the proteins present in the starting fraction. Many of the proteins were sialylated as expected for proteins existing the trans-Golgi network. The two populations of vesicles contained a number of proteins in common, as well as components which were enriched up to 38-fold in one fraction relative to the other. Among the unique components, a number of transmembrane proteins could be identified using Triton X-114 phase partitioning. This work provides evidence that two distinct classes of vesicles are responsible for apical and basolateral protein delivery. Common protein components are suggested to be involved in vesicle budding and fusion steps, while unique components may be required for specific recognition events such as those involved in protein sorting and vesicle targeting.

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