The O-linked oligosaccharides of mucin-type glycoproteins contain N-acetyl-D-galactosamine (GalNAc) that is not found in N-linked glycoproteins. Because Helix pomatia lectin interacts with terminal GalNAc, we used this lectin, bound to particles of colloidal gold, to localize such sugar residues in subcellular compartments of intestinal goblet cells. When thin sections of low temperature Lowicryl K4M embedded duodenum or colon were incubated with Helix pomatia lectin-gold complexes, no labeling could be detected over the cisternal space of the nuclear envelope and the rough endoplasmic reticulum. A uniform labeling was observed over the first and several subsequent cis Golgi cisternae and over the last (duodenal goblet cells) or the two last (colonic goblet cells) trans Golgi cisternae as well as forming and mature mucin droplets. However, essentially no labeling was detected over several cisternae in the central (medial) region of the Golgi apparatus. The results strongly suggest that core O-glycosylation takes place in cis Golgi cisternae but not in the rough endoplasmic reticulum. The heterogenous labeling for GalNAc residues in the Golgi apparatus is taken as evidence that termination of certain O-oligosaccharide chains by GalNAc occurs in trans Golgi cisternae.

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