Kinetics of internalization and recycling of transferrin and the transferrin receptor in a human hepatoma cell line. Effect of lysosomotropic agents

A. Ciechanover, A. L. Schwartz, A. Dautry Varsat, H. F. Lodish

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387 Scopus citations

Abstract

Growing HepG2 cells contain 50,000 functional surface transferrin-binding sites and 100,000 intracellular sites. At saturating concentrations of [59Fe]transferrin, and under conditions in which protein synthesis is blocked, iron uptake is linear for several hours at a rate of 9,500 transferrin molecules/cell/min. Thus, each receptor must recycle a ligand, on the average, each 15.8 min. Surface-bound transferrin is rapidly endocytosed (t( 1/2 ) = 3.5 min). All of the iron remains within the cell, while the apotransferrin is rapidly (t( 1/2 ) = 5.0 min) secreted into the medium. Previously, we showed that exposure of a ferrotransferrin-receptor complex to medium of pH less than 5.0 results in dissociation of iron, but that apotransferrin remains bound to its receptor. If the pH is raised to 7.0, such as would occur when an acidic intracellular vesicle fuses with the plasma membrane, apotransferrin is very rapidly dissociated (t( 1/2 ) = 17 s at 37°C) from its receptor. Taken together, these results indicate that transferrin remains bound to its receptor throughout the endocytic cycle. In the present study, we have directly measured all the kinetic parameters involved in the transferrin receptor cycle. They are similar to those of the sialoglycoprotein receptor in the same cell line, and can be described by a simple kinetic model. In the presence of lysosomotropic agents, ferrotransferrin binds to its surface receptor and is internalized normally. However, iron is not dissociated from transferrin, and ferrotransferrin recycles back to the cell surface and is secreted into the medium. We conclude that the low pH in endocytic vesicles is essential for the dissociation of iron from transferrin and its delivery to the cell, but is not required for recycling of transferrin, and presumably of its receptor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9681-9689
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Volume258
Issue number16
StatePublished - 1983

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