An affinity-purified rabbit antibody against rat liver mannose 6-phosphate receptor (MP-R) was prepared. The antibody was directed against a 215 kd-polypeptide and it recognized both ligand-occupied and free receptor. Anti-MP-R was used for immunofluorescence and immunoelectron microscopy of cryosections from rat liver. MP-R was demonstrated in all parenchymal liver cells, but not in endothelial lining cells. MP-R labeling was found at the entire plasma membrane, in coated pits and coated vesicles, in the compartment of uncoupling receptor and ligand, and in the Golgi complex. Lysosomes showed only scarce MP-R label. In double-labeling immunoelectron microscopy, MP-R co-localized with albumin in the Golgi cisternae and in secretory vesicles with lipoprotein particles. Cathepsin D was associated with MP-R in the Golgi cisternae. This finding indicates that MP-R/cathepsin D complexes traverse the Golgi complex on their way to the lysosomes. The possible involvement of CURL in lysosomal enzyme targeting is discussed.

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