We have studied concurrent apical/basolateral and regulated/constitutive secretory targeting in filter-grown thyroid epithelial monolayers in vitro, by following the exocytotic routes of two newly synthesized endogenous secretory proteins, thyroglobulin (Tg) and p500. Tg is a regulated secretory protein as indicated by its acute secretory response to secretagogues. Without stimulation, pulse-labeled Tg exhibits primarily two kinetically distinct routes: less than or equal to 80% is released in an apical secretory phase which is largely complete by 6-10 h, with most of the remaining Tg retained in intracellular storage from which delayed apical discharge is seen. The rapid export observed for most Tg is unlikely to be because of default secretion, since its apical polarity is preserved even during the period (less than or equal to 10 h) when p500 is released basolaterally by a constitutive pathway unresponsive to secretagogues. p500 also exhibits a second, kinetically distinct secretory route: at chase times greater than 10 h, a residual fraction (less than or equal to 8%) of p500 is secreted with an apical preponderance similar to that of Tg. It appears that this fraction of p500 has failed to be excluded from the regulated pathway, which has a predetermined apical polarity. From these data we hypothesize that a targeting hierarchy may exist in thyroid epithelial cells such that initial sorting to the regulated pathway may be a way of insuring apical surface delivery from one of two possible exocytotic routes originating in the immature storage compartment.

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