Intermicrovillar areas and apical vesicles characterized by an extensive clathrin coat can be identified in some epithelial cell types. We describe a 280-kD protein, characteristic of these areas in the proximal tubule brush border and epithelial cells of the visceral yolk sac. When injected to 9-d pregnant rats, mAbs to the 280-kD protein regularly induced fetal resorption and/or malformations. Antibodies to a 330-kD protein that is also coated-pit-restricted had no effect. Our observations point to a key function for p280 and suggest that immunity to specific constituents of the receptor-mediated endocytotic system may be involved in the induction of fetal abnormalities.

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