Regulation of protein traffic in polarized epithelial cells

Histol Histopathol. 1995 Apr;10(2):423-31.


The plasma membrane of polarized epithelial cells is divided into apical and basolateral surfaces with different compositions. Proteins can be sent directly from the trans Golgi network (TGN) to either surface, or can be sent first to one surface and then transcytosed to the other. The glycosyl phosphatidylinositol anchor is a signal for apical targeting. Signals in the cytoplasmic domain containing a beta-turn determine basolateral targeting and retrieval, and are related to other shorting signals. Transcytosed proteins, such as the polymeric immunoglobulin receptor (pIgR) are endocytosed from the basolateral surface and delivered to the apical recycling compartment underneath the apical surface. This compartment is a central sorting station, as it receives material from both surfaces and sorts them to the correct surface. Delivery to the apical surface from both the TGN and the apical recycling compartment is regulated by protein kinase A and protein kinase C, and endocytosis from the apical surface is also regulated by kinases. Transcytosis of the pIgR is additionally regulated by phosphorylation of the pIgR and by ligand binding to the pIgR. Regulation of traffic in polarized epithelial cells plays a central role in cellular homeostasis, response to external signals, and differentiation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cell Polarity / physiology*
  • Epithelial Cells
  • Epithelium / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Proteins / metabolism*


  • Proteins