Cells contain an intracellular compartment that serves as both the "prelysosomal" delivery site for newly synthesized lysosomal enzymes by the mannose 6-phosphate (Man6P) receptor and as a station along the endocytic pathway to lysosomes. We have obtained mAbs to a approximately 57-kD membrane glycoprotein, (called here plgp57), found predominantly in this prelysosomal endosome compartment. This conclusion is supported by the following results: (a) plgp57 was primarily found in a population of late endosomes that were located just distal to the 20 degrees C block site in the endocytic pathway to lysosomes (approximately 83% of the prelysosomes were positive for plgp57 but less than 5% of the early endosomes had detectable amounts of this marker); (b) plgp57 and the cation-independent (CI) Man6P receptor were located in many of the same intracellular vesicles; (c) plgp57 was found in the membranes of an acidic compartment; (d) immunoelectron microscopy showed that plgp57 was located in characteristic multilamellar- and multivesicular-type vacuoles believed to be prelysosomal endosomes; and (e) cell fractionation studies demonstrated that plgp57 was predominantly found in low density organelles which comigrated with late endosomes and CI Man6P receptors, and only approximately 10-15% of the antigen was found in high density fractions containing the majority of secondary lysosomes. These results indicate that plgp57 is a novel marker for a unique prelysosomal endosome compartment that is the site of confluence of the endocytic and biosynthetic pathways to lysosomes.

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