Previous work has shown that the mRNA encoding the vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) glycoprotein (G) is bound to the rough endoplasmic reticulum (RER) and that newly made G protein is localized to the RER. In this paper, we have investigated the topology and processing of the newly synthesized G protein in microsomal vesicles. G was labeled with [35S]methionine ([35S]met), either by pulse-labeling infected cells or by allowing membrane-bound polysomes containing nascent G polipeptides to complete G synthesis in vitro. In either case, digestion of microsomal vesicles with any of several proteases removes approximately 5% (30 amino acids) from each G molecule. These proteases will digest the entire G protein if detergents are present during digestion. Using the method of Dintzis (1961, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 47:247--261) to order tryptic peptides (8), we show that peptides lost from G protein by protease treatment of closed vesicles are derived from the carboxyterminus of the molecule. The newly made VSV G in microsomal membranes is glycosylated. If carbohydrate is removed by glycosidases, the resultant peptide migrates more rapidly on polyacrylamide gels than the unglycosylated, G0, form synthesized in cell-free systems in the absence of membranes. We infer that some proteolytic cleavage of the polypeptide backbone is associated with membrane insertion of G. Further, our findings demonstrate that, soon after synthesis, G is found in a transmembrane, asymmetric orientation in microsomal membranes, with its carboxyterminus exposed to the extracisternal, or cytoplasmic, face of the vesicles, and with most or all of its amino-terminal peptides and its carbohydrate sequestered within the bilayer and lumen of the microsomes.

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