We have studied the expression of the chicken hepatic glycoprotein receptor (chicken hepatic lectin [CHL]) in Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells, by transfection of its cDNA under the control of a retroviral promotor. Transfected cell lines stably express 87,000 surface receptors/cell with a kd = 13 nM. In confluent monolayers, approximately 40% of CHL is localized at the plasma membrane. 98% of the surface CHL is expressed at the basolateral surface where it performs polarized endocytosis and degradation of glycoproteins carrying terminal N-acetylglucosamine at a rate of 50,000 ligand molecules/h. Studies of the half-life of metabolically labeled receptor and of the stability of biotinylated cell surface receptor after internalization indicate that transfected CHL performs several rounds of uptake and recycling before it gets degraded. The successful expression of a functional basolateral receptor in MDCK cells opens the way for the characterization of the mechanisms that control targeting and recycling of proteins to the basolateral membrane of epithelial cells.

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