Apical polarity of N-CAM and EMMPRIN in retinal pigment epithelium resulting from suppression of basolateral signal recognition

Alan D. Marmorstein, Yunbo C. Gan, Vera L. Bonilha, Silvia C. Finnemann, Karl G. Csaky, Enrique Rodriguez-Boulan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells apically polarize proteins that are basolateral in other epithelia. This reversal may be generated by the association of RPE with photoreceptors and the interphotoreceptor matrix, postnatal expansion of the RPE apical surface, and/or changes in RPE sorting machinery. We compared two proteins exhibiting reversed, apical polarities in RPE cells, neural cell adhesion molecule (N-CAM; 140-kD isoform) and extracellular matrix metalloproteinase inducer (EMMPRIN), with the cognate apical marker, p75-neurotrophin receptor (p75-NTR). N-CAM and p75-NTR were apically localized from birth to adulthood, contrasting with a basolateral to apical switch of EMMPRIN in developing postnatal rat RPE. Morphometric analysis demonstrated that this switch cannot be attributed to expansion of the apical surface of maturing RPE because the basolateral membrane expanded proportionally, maintaining a 3:1 apical/basolateral ratio. Kinetic analysis of polarized surface delivery in MDCK and RPE-J cells showed that EMMPRIN has a basolateral signal in its cytoplasmic tail recognized by both cell lines. In contrast, the basolateral signal of N-CAM is recognized by MDCK cells but not RPE-J cells. Deletion of N-CAM's basolateral signal did not prevent its apical localization in vivo. The data demonstrate that the apical polarity of EMMPRIN and N-CAM in mature RPE results from suppressed decoding of specific basolateral signals resulting in randomized delivery to the cell surface.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)697-710
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Cell Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 10 1998


  • Adenovirus gene transfer
  • Interphotoreceptor matrix
  • Polarity
  • RET-PE2
  • p75- NTR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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