Truncated variants of the gene encoding H-2Ld, an integral membrane protein encoded by the major histocompatibility complex, were constructed by in vitro mutagenesis to elucidate the function of charged amino acids found on the cytoplasmic side of the transmembrane (TM) region. Analysis of cloned L cells transfected with these genes shows that the seven amino acids following the TM segment, four of which are basic, enhance the cell surface expression of H-2Ld protein but are not required for it. However, some clones do not express a tailless H-2Ld protein on the cell surface but express it intracellularly where it has a long half-life. Turnover measurements on cell surface H-2Ld proteins suggest that the basic residues following the TM segment are not a "stop transfer" sequence (Blobel, G., 1980, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA., 77:1496-1500) which anchors the H-2Ld protein in the membrane. Pulse-chase and endoglycosidase H sensitivity studies show that H-2Ld proteins lacking some or all of the basic residues and H-2Ld proteins which have a full-length cytoplasmic tail are processed with different kinetics. These results suggest an involvement of the membrane-proximal region of the cytoplasmic tail in the intracellular transport of H-2Ld. We further suggest that the L cell clones which do and do not express a tailless H-2Ld protein on the cell surface differ in the ability to transport a tailless integral membrane protein to the cell surface.

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