The lymphocyte glycoprotein CD4 is constitutively internalized and recycled in nonlymphoid cells, but is excluded from the endocytic pathway in lymphocytic cells (Pelchen-Matthews, A., J. E. Armes, G. Griffiths, and M. Marsh. 1991. J. Exp. Med. 173: 575-587). Inhibition of CD4 endocytosis is dependent on CD4 expressing an intact cytoplasmic domain and is only observed in cells where CD4 can interact with the protein tyrosine kinase p56lck, a member of the src gene family. We have expressed p56lck, p60c-src, or chimeras of the two proteins in CD4-transfected NIH-3T3 or HeLa cells. Immunoprecipitation of CD4 and in vitro kinase assays showed that p56lck and the lck/src chimera, which contains the NH2 terminus of p56lck, can associate with CD4. In contrast, p60c-src and the src/lck chimera, which has the NH2 terminus of p60c-src, do not associate with CD4. Endocytosis assays using radioiodinated anti-CD4 monoclonal antibodies demonstrated that coexpression of CD4 with p56lck, but not with p60c-src, inhibited CD4 endocytosis, and that the extent of the inhibition depended directly on the relative levels of CD4 and p56lck expressed. The uptake of mutant CD4 molecules which cannot interact with p56lck was not affected. Measurement of the fluid-phase endocytosis of HRP or the internalization of transferrin indicated that the effect of p56lck was specific for CD4, and did not extend to other receptor-mediated or fluid-phase endocytic processes. Immunogold labeling of CD4 at the cell surface and observation by electron microscopy demonstrated directly that p56lck inhibits CD4 endocytosis by preventing its entry into coated pits.

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