The tyrosine kinase substrate annexin II is a member of a multigene family of Ca2+ and lipid-binding proteins which have been implicated in a number of membrane-related events. We have analyzed the subcellular distribution of annexin II in relation to other cellular components in normal and specifically manipulated MDCK cells. In a polarized monolayer of MDCK cells annexin II and its cellular ligand p11 are restricted almost exclusively to the cortical regions of the cells which also contain peripheral early endosomes. Treatment of the polarized cells with low Ca2+ medium leads to a disintegration of the cortical cytoskeleton and a translocation of both, the annexin II2p11(2) complex and early endosomes, to the cytoplasm. A similar translocation which is however specific for the annexin II2p11(2) complex and early endosomes and does not affect other elements of the cell cortex is observed in cells expressing a trans-dominant annexin II-p11 mutant. This chimeric mutant protein causes the aggregation of endogenous annexin II and p11 and the simultaneous detachment of early endosomes from the cell periphery resulting in the binding of the early endosomes but no other components of the endocytotic or biosynthetic pathways to the annexin II/p11 aggregates. The specificity of this effect argues for the association of the annexin II2p11(2) complex with early endosomes and suggests that this association contributes to establish the peripheral localization of early endosomal structures.

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