The soluble human transferrin receptor (TfR) found in blood is the result of a proteolytic cleavage occurring in the ectodomain of the receptor close to the transmembrane domain at Arg-100. We have discovered another cleavage site between Gly-91 and Val-92 even closer to the transmembrane domain. Cleavage at Gly-91 differs markedly from the normal cleavage site. It occurs when the entire cytoplasmic portion or the proximal 31 amino acids of the transmembrane domain are deleted. A soluble disulfide-bonded dimer of the TfR is released into the medium in contrast to the cleavage at Arg-100 where a dimer lacking intersubunit disulfide bonds is released. Whereas the cleavage at Arg-100 is generated by cycling through the endosomal system, pulse-chase experiments indicate that cleavage at Gly-91 occurs predominantly during the biosynthesis of the receptor. Pulse-chase analysis of the biosynthesis of mutant TfRs that lack the membrane-proximal cytoplasmic domain show that they exit the endoglycosidase H-sensitive compartment at a slower rate than the wild type TfR. These results suggest that the cytoplasmic domain influences the trafficking of the TfR either by influencing the folding of the ectodomain or by providing a positive signal for its transport through the biosynthetic pathway.
ASJC Scopus subject areas