As a model of ligand-dependent protein secretion the biosynthesis, intracellular transport, and release of the retinol-binding protein (RBP) were studied in primary cultures of rat hepatocytes pulse-labeled with [35S]methionine. After various periods of chase RBP was isolated by immunoprecipitation and identified by SDS PAGE. Both normal and vitamin A-deficient hepatocytes synthesized RBP. The normal cells secreted the pulse-labeled RBP within 2 h. RBP synthesized by deficient cells was not secreted, and intracellular degradation of the protein appeared to be slow. Deficient cells could be induced to secrete RBP on the addition of retinol to the culture medium. This occurred also after protein synthesis had been blocked by cycloheximide. Since retinol induces the secretion of RBP, accumulated in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), it seems reasonable to conclude that the transport of RBP from the ER to the Golgi complex is regulated by retinol.

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