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ABSTRACT

A typical feature of epithelial cells is the polarized distribution of their respective plasma membrane proteins. Apical and basolateral proteins can be sorted both in the trans-Golgi network and endosomes, or in both locations. Inclusion into basolateral carriers in the TGN requires the presence of distinct cytoplasmic determinants, which also appear to be recognized in endosomes. Inactivation of the basolateral sorting information leads to the efficient apical delivery, probably due to the unmasking of a recessive apical signal. Factors associated with the cytosolic face of organelles probably not only recognize these signals to mediate the inclusion of the proteins into the correct transport vesicles, but also target the carriers to the corresponding plasma membrane domain. Our interest has focused on analyzing at the molecular level how epithelial MDCK cells generate and maintain a polarized phenotype, taking advantage of immunoglobulin receptors to study the biosynthetic and endocytic pathways and the corresponding sorting events.