Recent studies on the mechanism of degradation of newly synthesized glycoproteins suggest the involvement of a retrotranslocation of the glycoprotein from the lumen of the rough endoplasmic reticulum into the cytosol, where a deglycosylation process takes place. In the studies reported here, we used a glycosylation mutant of Chinese hamster ovary cells that does not synthesize mannosylphosphoryldolichol and has an increased level of soluble oligomannosides originating from glycoprotein degradation. In the presence of anisomycin, an inhibitor of protein synthesis, we observed an accumulation of glucosylated oligosaccharide-lipid donors (Glc3Man5GlcNAc2-PP-Dol), which are the precursors of the soluble neutral oligosaccharide material. Inhibition of rough endoplasmic reticulum glucosidase(s) by castanospermine led to the formation of Glc3Man5GlcNAc2(OSGn2) (in which OSGn2 is an oligomannoside possessing two GlcNAc residues at its reducing end), which was then retained in the lumen of intracellular vesicles. Thus they were protected during an 8 h chase period from the action of cytosolic chitobiase, which is responsible for the conversion of OSGn2 to oligomannosides possessing one GlcNAc residue at the reducing end (OSGn1). In contrast, when protein synthesis was maintained in the presence of castanospermine, glucosylated oligomannosides (Glc1–3Man5GlcNAc1) were recovered in cytosol. Except for monoglucosylated Man5 species, which are potential substrates for luminal calnexin and calreticulin, the pattern of oligomannosides was similar to that observed on glycoproteins. The occurrence in the cytosol of glucosylated species with one GlcNAc residue at the reducing end implies that the deglycosylation process that generates glucosylated OSGn1 from glycoproteins occurs in the cytosol.

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