By in vitro translation of mRNA's isolated from free and membrane-bound polysomes, direct evidence was obtained for the synthesis of two lysosomal hydrolases, β-glucuronidase of the rat preputial gland and cathespin D of mouse spleen, on polysomes bound to rough endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membranes. When the mRNA's for these two proteins were translated in the presence of microsomal membranes, the in vitro synthesized polypeptides were cotranslationally glycosylated and transferred into the microsomal lumen. Polypeptides synthesized in the absence of microsomal membranes were approximately 2,000 daltons larger than the respective unglycosylated microsomal polypeptides found after short times of labeling in cultured rat liver cells treated with tunicamycin. This strongly suggests that nascent chains of the lysosomal enzymes bear transient amino terminal signals which determine synthesis on bound polysomes and are removed during the cotranslational insertion of the polypeptides into the ER membranes.

In the line of cultured rat liver cells used for this work, newly synthesized lysosomal hydrolases showed a dual destination; approximately 60 percent of the microsomal polypeptides detected after short times of labeling were subsequently processed proteolytically to lower molecular weight forms characteristic of the mature enzymes. The remainder was secreted from the cells without further proteolytic processing. As previously observed by other investigations in cultured fibroblasts (A. Gonzalez-Noriega, J.H. Grubbs, V. Talkad, and W.S. Sly, 1980, J Cell Biol. 85: 839-852; A. Hasilik and E.F. Neufeld, 1980, J. Biol. Chem., 255:4937-4945.) the lysosomotropic amine chloroquine prevented the proteolytic maturation of newly synthesized hydrolases and enhanced their section. In addition, unglycosylated hydrolases synthesized in cells treated with tunicamycin were exclusively exported from the cells without undergoing proteolytic processing. These results support the notions that modified sugar residues serve as sorting out signals which address the hydrolases to their lysosomal destination and that final proteolytic cleavage of hydrolase precursors take place within lysosome itself.

Structural differences in the carbohydrate chains of intracellular and secreted precursors of cathespin D were detected from their differential sensitivity to digestion with endoglycosidases H and D. These observations suggest that the hydrolases exported into the medium follow the normal secretory route and that some of their oligosaccharides are subject to modifications known to affect many secretory glycoproteins during their passage through the Golgi apparatus.

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