When expressed in livers of transgenic mice, the human low density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor is specifically targeted to the basolateral (sinusoidal) surface of hepatocytes as determined by immunofluorescence and immunoelectron microscopy. The COOH-terminal cytoplasmic domain of the receptor (residues 790-839) contains a signal for this targeting. A mutant receptor truncated at residue 812 was localized exclusively to the apical (bile canalicular) surface. A mutant receptor terminating at residue 829 showed the normal basolateral distribution, as did a receptor in which alanine was substituted for serine 833, which was previously shown to be a site for phosphorylation in vitro. These data localize the basolateral targeting signal to the 17-residue segment between residues 812 and 828. A 10-amino acid stretch within this segment shows a 4/10 match with a sequence within a previously identified basolateral sorting motif for the receptor for polymeric IgA/IgM in MDCK cells. The four shared residues are spaced at intervals of three, raising the possibility that they all face the same side of an alpha-helix. We conclude that this 10-amino acid stretch may contain a signal that directs certain proteins, including the LDL receptor and the polymeric IgG/IgM receptor, to the basolateral surface of polarized epithelia.

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