Many cells of the immune system and certain epithelia express receptors for the Fc domain of IgG (FcR). On mouse macrophages and lymphocytes, two distinct receptor isoforms have been identified, designated FcRII-B1 and FcRII-B2. The isoforms are identical except for an in-frame insertion of 47 amino acids in the cytoplasmic tail of FcRII-B1 that blocks its ability to be internalized by clathrin-coated pits. We have recently found that at least one IgG-transporting epithelium, namely placental syncytial trophoblasts, expresses transcripts encoding a receptor similar or identical to macrophage-lymphocyte FcRII. To determine whether FcRII of hematopoietic cells might also function as a transcytotic receptor if expressed in epithelial cells, FcRII-B1 and -B2 were transfected into Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells and grown on permeable filter units. The two FcRII isoforms exhibited different patterns of polarized expression: FcRII-B1 was localized mainly to the apical plasma membrane domain, whereas FcRII-B2 was found predominantly on the basolateral surface. As expected for FcR in placenta, FcRII-B2 and to a lesser extent FcRII-B1 mediated transcellular transport of IgG-complexes from the apical to the basolateral plasma membrane. Neither receptor mediated transcytosis in the opposite direction, although FcRII-B2 also delivered ligand to lysosomes when internalized from either the basolateral or apical domains. Furthermore, FcRII-B2 was capable of transporting monovalent antireceptor antibody Fab fragments across the cell, suggesting that transcytosis was not dependent on receptor cross-linking. These findings suggest the possibility that FcRII can mediate transepithelial IgG transport when expressed in placental syncytial trophoblasts in addition to its "classical" endocytic and signaling activities when expressed in macrophages. Because FcRII-B1 and -B2 are expressed with distinct polarities, the results also suggest that interactions with clathrin-coated pits may play a role in generating the polarized distribution of at least some plasma membrane proteins in MDCK cells.

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