Based on topological studies mannosylphosphoryldolichol (Man-P-Dol) is synthesized on the cytoplasmic face of the RER, but functions as a mannosyl donor in Glc3Man9GlcNAc2-P-P-dolichol biosynthesis after the mannosyl-phosphoryl headgroup diffuses transversely to the luminal compartment. The transport of mannosylphosphorylcitronellol (Man-P-Cit), a water-soluble analogue of Man-P-Dol, by microsomal vesicles from mouse liver, has been investigated as a potential experimental approach to determine if a membrane protein(s) mediates the transbilayer movement of Man-P-Dol. For these studies beta-[3H]Man-P-Cit was synthesized enzymatically with a partially purified preparation of Man-P-undecaprenol synthase from Micrococcus luteus. The uptake of the radiolabeled water-soluble analogue was found to be (a) time dependent; (b) stereoselective; (c) dependent on an intact permeability barrier; (d) saturable; (e) protease-sensitive; and (f) highest in ER-enriched vesicles relative to Golgi complex-enriched vesicles and intact mitochondria. Consistent with the involvement of a membrane protein, the analogue did not enter synthetic phosphatidylcholine-liposomes. [3H]Man-P-Cit also was not transported by human erythrocytes. These results indicate that the transport of Man-P-Cit by sealed microsomal vesicles from mouse liver is mediated by a membrane protein transport system. It is possible that the same membrane protein(s) participates in the transbilayer movement of Man-P-Dol in the ER.

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