The AtT-20 cell, a mouse pituitary tumor line that secretes adrenocorticotropin and beta-endorphin, sorts the proteins it externalizes into two exocytotic pathways. Cells that are labeled with [35S]methionine or [35S]sulfate can be shown to transport three acidic polypeptides (65,000, 60,000, and 37,000 mol wt) and at least two sulfated macromolecules into storage secretory granules. When the cells are stimulated by the secretagogue 8-bromo-cAMP, these polypeptides are coordinately secreted with mature adrenocorticotropin into the culture medium. In contrast, a completely different set of secreted polypeptides and sulfated macromolecules does not enter a storage form and is transported to the cell surface more rapidly. Their secretion from the cells is constitutive and does not require the presence of secretagogues. These molecules, like a viral membrane glycoprotein described previously (Gumbiner, B., and R. B. Kelly, 1982, Cell, 28:51-59) are not found in isolated secretory granules and therefore must reach the cell surface in a different exocytotic vesicle. The segregation of a subclass of secretory macromolecules into the secretory granules, despite the existence of another potential secretory pathway, suggests that these molecules have specific functions related to regulated hormone secretion or storage. Presumably all of the proteins secreted by the regulated secretory granule pathway share some common property that targets them to the secretory granule.

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