The anterior pituitary is a complex secretory tissue known to contain several sulfated macromolecules. In the present study, we identified the major tyrosine-sulfated protein of the bovine anterior pituitary and investigated its cellular and subcellular localization. This protein consisted of two tyrosine-sulfated polypeptides of molecular weight 86,000 and 84,000 that were highly homologous to each other. In agreement with previous biochemical studies, the tyrosine-sulfated protein of Mr 86,000/84,000 was found to be secretory, as it was observed in the matrix of secretory granules by immunoelectron microscopy. Immunofluorescence studies indicated that the tyrosine-sulfated, secretory protein of Mr 86,000/84,000, referred to as TSP 86/84, was present in all endocrine cells except for some somatotrophic cells. Higher levels of immunoreactivity for TSP 86/84 were observed in gonadotrophic and thyrotrophic than in mammotrophic and corticotrophic cells. This appeared to result from the occurrence of TSP 86/84 in all secretory granules of the former cells and in only some secretory granules of the latter cells. We discuss the possibility that TSP 86/84 may have a role in the packaging of several distinct peptides hormones into secretory granules. One, though not the only, possible function of tyrosine sulfation may concern the sorting of this protein in the Golgi complex.

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