In the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the carboxyl terminal sequence His-Asp-Glu-Leu (HDEL) has been shown to function as an ER retention sequence (Pelham, H. R. B., K. G. Hardwick, and M. J. Lewis. 1988. EMBO (Eur. Mol. Biol. Organ.) J. 7:1757-1762). To examine the mechanism of retention of soluble ER proteins in yeast, we have analyzed the expression of a preproalpha factor fusion protein, tagged at the carboxyl terminus with the HDEL sequence. We demonstrate that this fusion protein, expressed in vivo, accumulates intracellularly as a precursor containing both ER and Golgi-specific oligosaccharide modifications. The Golgi-specific carbohydrate modification, which occurs in a SEC18-dependent manner, consists of alpha 1-6 mannose linkages, with no detectable alpha 1-3 mannose additions, indicating that the transit of the HDEL-tagged fusion protein is confined to an early Golgi compartment. Results obtained from the fractionation of subcellular organelles from yeast expressing HDEL-tagged fusion proteins suggest that the Golgi-modified species are present in the ER. Overexpression of HDEL-tagged preproalpha factor results in the secretion of an endogenous HDEL-containing protein, demonstrating that the HDEL recognition system can be saturated. These results support the model in which the retention of these proteins in the ER is dependent on their receptor-mediated recycling from the Golgi complex back to the ER.

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