The low density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor is a member of a class of receptors that bind macromolecules at the cell surface and facilitate their cellular uptake by receptor-mediated endocytosis. The orientation of the LDL receptor in the plasma membrane is unknown. In the current studies the sequence of amino acids at the NH2-terminus of the bovine adrenal LDL receptor was determined, and a synthetic peptide corresponding to amino acids 1-16 was prepared. Antibodies against this peptide were raised in rabbits and were shown by immunoblotting analysis to react specifically with the bovine LDL receptor. The anti-receptor peptide antibodies also bound to the LDL receptor on the outer surface of the plasma membrane of intact human fibroblasts, as visualized by indirect immunofluorescence. Specificity of this binding reaction was confirmed by the observation that the anti-receptor peptide antibodies did not bind to mutant fibroblasts from a patient with homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia that lack LDL receptors. These data demonstrate that the LDL receptor is oriented in the plasma membrane with its NH2-terminus facing the extracellular surface.

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