Binding and internalization of 125I-ovine prolactin into hepatocytes of female rats was visualized by the in vivo radioautographic method (Bergeron, J. J. M., G. Levine, R. Sikstrom, D. O'Shaughnessey, B. Kopriwa, N. J. Nadler, and B. I. Posner, 1977, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 745:051-5055). Receptor-mediated internalization of label was observed into lipoprotein-filled vesicles in the Golgi/bile canalicular region of the hepatocyte. Colchicine treatment had no effect on the internalization of label into the lipoprotein-filled vesicles. However, the location of the radio-labeled lipoprotein-filled vesicles was altered from the Golgi/bile canalicular region to subsinusoidal. Radioactive content of hepatocytes decreased as a function of time after injection of 125I-prolactin; however, colchicine treatment markedly retarded this loss of label. Subcellular fractionation experiments indicated that colchicine treatment led to decreased levels of 125I-prolactin accumulation in microsomes but augmented the accumulation of label in the L fraction. It is concluded that in normal female rats prolactin is internalized into lipoprotein-filled vesicles in the Golgi region before degradation of the hormone. Colchicine treatment accumulates labeled lipoprotein-containing vesicles in a subsinusoidal region and retards hormone catabolism. The labeled vesicles observed after colchicine treatment may correspond to the unique vesicles previously observed in the L fraction and found to be enriched in prolactin receptors (Khan, M. N., B. I. Posner, A. K. Verma, R. J. Khan, and J. J. M. Bergeron, 1981, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 78:4980-4981).

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