The distribution of a number of membrane proteins on plasmalemmal microdomains (microvilli, coated pits) and in endosomes and lysosomes of the proximal tubule epithelial cell was determined in normal rat kidneys by immunofluorescence and immunoelectron microscopy. Two major brush border proteins, 130 and 94 kD, and gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase were detected on the membranes of the microvilli but were not found on membranes of coated pits. Gp330, the Heymann nephritis antigen, and clathrin were localized in coated pits. The lysosomal membrane glycoprotein, lgp120 (Lewis, V., S. A. Green, M. Marsh, P. Vihko, A. Helenius, and I. Mellman, 1985, J. Cell Biol., 100: 1839-1847) was restricted to lysosomes where it co-localized with beta-glucuronidase. Endosomes, identified by preloading with HRP injected 5-15 min before rats were killed, did not contain detectable amounts of any antigen tested. The distribution of the same proteins was also determined in rats given sodium maleate, which is known to slow or reduce protein absorption by the proximal tubule and to cause vacuolation of the endocytic apparatus. After maleate treatment the distribution of microvillar and lysosomal markers was unchanged, but the coated pit markers were redistributed--gp330 was concentrated in newly formed apical vacuoles, and clathrin was diffusely distributed in the apical cytoplasm or on apical coated vesicles. These findings indicate that the membrane composition of microvilli, coated pits, endosomes, and lysosomes is distinctive in the proximal tubule cell; and that gp330, unlike other known coated pit membrane components, is not transferred to endosomes during endocytosis. After maleate treatment, the coated pits lose their clathrin coats, and the corresponding membrane is internalized.

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