The RER retains a specific subset of ER proteins, many of which have been shown to participate in the translocation of nascent secretory and membrane proteins. The mechanism of retention of RER specific membrane proteins is unknown. To study this phenomenon in yeast, where no RER-specific membrane proteins have yet been identified, we expressed the human RER-specific protein, ribophorin I. In all mammalian cell types examined, ribophorin I has been shown to be restricted to the membrane of the RER. Here we ascertain that yeast cells correctly target, assemble, and retain ribophorin I in their RER. Floatation experiments demonstrated that human ribophorin I, expressed in yeast, was membrane associated. Carbonate (pH = 11) washing and Triton X-114 cloud-point precipitations of yeast microsomes indicated that ribophorin I was integrated into the membrane bilayer. Both chromatography on Con A and digestion with endoglycosidase H were used to prove that ribophorin I was glycosylated once, consistent with its expression in mammalian cells. Proteolysis of microsomal membranes and subsequent immunoblotting showed ribophorin I to have assumed the correct transmembrane topology. Sucrose gradient centrifugation studies found ribophorin I to be included only in fractions containing rough membranes and excluded from smooth ones that, on the basis of the distribution of BiP, included smooth ER. Ribosome removal from rough membranes and subsequent isopycnic centrifugation resulted in a shift in the buoyant density of the ribophorin I-containing membranes. Furthermore, the rough and density-shifted fractions were the exclusive location of protein translocation activity. Based on these studies we conclude that sequestration of membrane proteins to rough domains of ER probably occurs in a like manner in yeast and mammalian cells.

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