Bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) at the apical surface of polarized intestinal epithelial cells was previously shown to be transported from the apical to the basolateral pole of the epithelium (Beatty, W.L., and P.J. Sansonetti. 1997. Infect. Immun. 65:4395-4404). The present study was designed to elucidate the transcytotic pathway of LPS and to characterize the endocytic compartments involved in this process. Confocal and electron microscopic analyses revealed that LPS internalized at the apical surface became rapidly distributed within endosomal compartments accessible to basolaterally internalized transferrin. This compartment largely excluded fluid-phase markers added at either pole. Access to the basolateral side of the epithelium subsequent to trafficking to basolateral endosomes occurred via exocytosis into the paracellular space beneath the intercellular tight junctions. LPS appeared to exploit other endocytic routes with much of the internalized LPS recycled to the original apical membrane. In addition, analysis of LPS in association with markers of the endocytic network revealed that some LPS was sent to late endosomal and lysosomal compartments.
- Transcytosis trafficking epithelial