The polarity of the surface distribution of viral glycoproteins during virus infection has been studied in the Madin-Darby canine kidney epithelial cell line on nitrocellulose filters. Using a surface radioimmunoassay on Madin-Darby canine kidney strain I cells that had been infected with vesicular stomatitis virus or with avian influenza fowl plague virus, we found that the surface G protein was 97% basolateral, whereas the fowl plague virus hemagglutinin was 88% apical. Newly synthesized, pulse-labeled vesicular stomatitis virus appeared first on the basolateral plasma membrane as measured by an immunoprecipitation assay in which the anti-G protein antibody was applied to the monolayer either from the apical or the basolateral side. Labeled G protein could be accumulated inside the cell at a late stage of transport by decreasing the temperature to 20 degrees C during the chase. Reversal to 37 degrees C led to its rapid and synchronous transport to the basolateral surface at an initial rate 61-fold greater than that of transport to the apical side. These results demonstrate that the newly synthesized G protein is transported directly to the basolateral membrane and does not pass over the apical membrane en route. Since a previous study of the surface appearance of influenza virus hemagglutinins showed that the newly synthesized hemagglutinins were inserted directly from an intracellular site into the apical membrane (Matlin, K., and K. Simons, 1984, J. Cell Biol., 99:2131-2139), we conclude that the divergence of the transport pathway for the apical and basolateral viral glycoproteins has to occur intracellularly, i.e., before reaching the cell surface.

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