The Journal of biological chemistry

Trans-Golgi network and subapical compartment of HepG2 cells display different properties in sorting and exiting of sphingolipids.

PMID 12407103


In HepG2 cells, the subapical compartment (SAC) is involved in the biogenesis of membrane polarity. By contrast, direct apical transport originating from the trans-Golgi network (TGN), which may contribute to polarity establishment, has been poorly defined in these cells. Thus, although newly synthesized sphingolipids can be directly transported from the TGN to the apical membrane, numerous apical resident proteins are traveling via the transcytotic route. Here, we developed an in vitro transport assay and compared the molecular sorting of 6-[N-(7-nitrobenz-2-oxa-1,3 diazol-4-yl)amino] hexanoyl-sphingomyelin (C(6)NBD-SM) and C(6)NBD-glucosylceramide (C(6)NBD-GlcCer) in TGN and SAC. SM is released from both TGN and SAC in the lumenal leaflet of transport vesicles. This holds also for GlcCer released from the SAC but not for a substantial fraction that departed from the Golgi. Distinct transport vesicles, enriched in either SM or GlcCer are released from SAC, consistent with their rigid sorting in this compartment. Different vesicle populations could not be recovered from TGN, although in situ experiments reveal that GlcCer is preferentially transported to the apical membrane, reflecting different transport mechanisms. The results indicate that in HepG2 cells sphingolipids are mainly sorted in the SAC membrane and that the release of SM from SAC and TGN is differentially regulated.