gp40 has been recently identified as a major apical cell-surface sialoglycoprotein of type-I Madin–Darby canine kidney cells, a cell line widely used for the study of polarized transport. The determination of two internal amino acid sequences of the purified glycoprotein by Edman degradation enabled us to isolate the cDNA encoding the 18.6 kDa protein backbone of gp40. Sequence analysis revealed that gp40 is a type-I membrane protein which has several characteristics in common with glycophorin A and other mucin-type glycoproteins. At least 14 serine/threonine residues were found to be used for O-glycosylation. No potential sites for N-glycosylation were detected. gp40 turned out to represent the canine homologue of a cell-surface antigen expressed by various epithelial and non-epithelial cells in rat and mouse. Potential O-glycosylation sites, transmembrane and cytoplasmic domains were found to be highly conserved in the three species. gp40 was detected in canine lung, intestine, kidney, brain and heart but not in liver and spleen. The subline II of Madin–Darby canine kidney cells was found not to express gp40. Stable expression of gp40 in transfected type-II cells revealed that gp40 is predominantly delivered to the apical plasma membrane. N-Glycans and a glycosylphosphatidylinositol anchor, both proposed apical targeting signals, are absent from gp40, indicating that other determinants are responsible for its polarized transport.

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