A rat parathyroid cell line, with some differentiated properties of the parathyroid gland, synthesizes predominantly a heparan sulphate proteoglycan (HS-PG) typical of cell surface HS-PGs (core protein = ∼ 70 kDa, three to four HS chains of ∼ 30 kDa). A 10 min pulse-chase protocol was used to determine the metabolic fate of the HS-PGs for cells maintained in 2.1 mM-Ca2+ (high Ca) or in 0.05 mM-Ca2+ (low Ca). In low Ca, ∼ 60% of the labelled HS-PGs reach the cell surface (t1/2= ∼ 15 min) as determined by trypsin accessibility. This population of HS-PGs recycles (t1/2= ∼ 9 min) between the cell surface and an intracellular (presumably endosome) compartment. After ∼ 2 h, this population of HS-PGs is internalized and rapidly degraded in lysosomes. In high Ca, only ∼ 10% of the HS-PGs reach the cell surface, where they do not recycle. Changing from high to low Ca any time between 30–120 min of chase, rapidly (t1/2 less than 4 min) redistributes the HS-PGs to the cell surface where they begin recycling; conversely, changing from low to high Ca leads to a rapid sequestration of the cell surface HS-PGs within the cells. Other divalent cations fail to minic the response to Ca2+. The results suggest that most of the HS-PGs in this cell line are anchored in a membrane compartment involved in a transport process between endosomes and the cell surface which is regulated by the concentration of extracellular Ca2+.

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