A variant of the ACTH-secreting pituitary cell line, AtT-20, has been isolated that does not make ACTH, sulfated proteins characteristic of the regulated secretory pathway, or dense-core secretory granules but retains constitutive secretion. Unlike wild type AtT-20 cells, the variant cannot store or release on stimulation, free glycosaminoglycan (GAG) chains. In addition, the variant cells cannot store trypsinogen or proinsulin, proteins that are targeted to dense core secretory granules in wild type cells. The regulated pathway could not be restored by transfecting with DNA encoding trypsinogen, a soluble regulated secretory protein targeted to secretory granules. A comparison of secretion from variant and wild type cells allows a distinction to be made between constitutive secretion and basal secretion, the spontaneous release of regulated proteins that occurs in the absence of stimulation.

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