The yolk sac of the fetal rat and the proximal small intestine of the neonatal rat selectively transport maternal IgG. IgG-Fc receptors are thought to mediate transport across the epithelium of both tissues. We used a mouse mAb (MC-39) against the 45-54-kD component of the Fc receptor of the neonatal intestine to find an antigenically related protein that might function as an Fc receptor in fetal yolk sac. In immunoblots of yolk sac, MC-39 recognized a protein band with apparent molecular mass of 54-58 kD. MC-39 bound to the endoderm of yolk sac in immunofluorescence studies. In immunogold-labeling experiments MC-39 was associated mainly with small vesicles in the apical cytoplasm and in the region near the basolateral membrane of endodermal cells. The MC-39 cross-reactive protein and beta 2-microglobulin, a component of the intestinal Fc receptor, were copurified from detergent-solubilized yolk sac by an affinity purification that selected for proteins which, like the intestinal receptor, bound to IgG at pH 6.0 and eluted at pH 8.0. In summary, the data suggest that we have isolated the Fc receptor of the yolk sac and that this receptor is structurally and functionally related to the Fc receptor of the neonatal intestine. An unexpected finding is that, unlike the intestinal receptor which binds maternal IgG on the apical cell surface, the yolk sac receptor appears to bind IgG only within apical compartments which we suggest represent the endosomal complex.

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