In simple epithelial cells, apical and basolateral proteins are sorted into separate vesicular carriers before delivery to the appropriate plasma membrane domains. To dissect the putative sorting machinery, we have solubilized Golgi-derived transport vesicles with the detergent CHAPS and shown that an apical marker, influenza haemagglutinin (HA), formed a large complex together with several integral membrane proteins. Remarkably, a similar set of CHAPS-insoluble proteins was found after solubilization of a total cellular membrane fraction. This allowed the cloning of a cDNA encoding one protein of this complex, VIP21 (Vesicular Integral-membrane Protein of 21 kD). The transiently expressed protein appeared on the Golgi-apparatus, the plasma membrane and vesicular structures. We propose that VIP21 is a component of the molecular machinery of vesicular transport.

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