The Journal of Membrane Biology

, Volume 113, Issue 2, pp 155–167 | Cite as

Preferred apical distribution of glycosyl-phosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchored proteins: A highly conserved feature of the polarized epithelial cell phenotype

  • Michael P. Lisanti
  • André Le Bivic
  • Alan R. Saltiel
  • Enrique Rodriguez-Boulan


We use a sensitive biotin polarity assay to survey the surface distribution of glycosyl-phosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchored proteins in five model epithelial cell lines derived from different species (dog, pig, man) and tissues, i.e., kidney (MDCK I, MDCK II, LLC-PK1) and intestine (Caco-2 and SK-CO15). After biotinylation of apical or basolateral surfaces of confluent monolayers grown on polycarbonate filters, GPI-anchored proteins are identified by their shift from a Triton X-114 detergent-rich phase to a detergent-poor phase in the presence of phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C. All GPI-anchored proteins detected (3–9 per cell type, at least 13 different proteins) are found to be apically polarized; no GPI-anchored protein is observed preferentially localized to the basal surface. One of the GPI-anchored proteins is identified as carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA). Survey of MDCK II-RCA r , a mutant cell line with a pleiotropic defect in galactosylation of glycoproteins and glycolipids (that presumably affects GPI anchors) also reveals an apical polarization of all GPI-anchored proteins. In contrast, analysis of MDCK II-ConA′ (a mutant cell line with an unknown defect in glycosylation) revealed five GPI-anchored proteins, two of which appeared relatively unpolarized. Our results indicate that the polarized apical distribution of GPI-anchored proteins is highly conserved across species and tissue-type and may depend on glycosylation.

Key Words

protein targeting biotin labeling epithelial polarity glycolipids glycosyl-phosphatidylinositol 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael P. Lisanti
    • 1
  • André Le Bivic
    • 1
  • Alan R. Saltiel
    • 2
  • Enrique Rodriguez-Boulan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Cell Biology and AnatomyCornell University Medical CollegeNew York
  2. 2.Laboratory of Molecular OncologyRockefeller UniversityNew York

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