p63 is a type II integral membrane protein that has previously been suggested to be a resident protein of a membrane network interposed between the ER and the Golgi apparatus. In the present study, we have produced a polyclonal antibody against the purified human p63 protein to reassess the subcellular distribution of p63 by confocal immunofluorescence, immunoelectron microscopy, and cell fractionation. Double immunofluorescence of COS cells showed significant colocalization of p63 and a KDEL-containing lumenal ER marker protein, except for differences in the staining of the outer nuclear membrane. Immunoelectron microscopy of native HepG2 cells and of COS cells transfected with p63 revealed that both endogenous and overexpressed p63 are predominantly localized in the rough ER. While p63 was colocalized with protein disulfide isomerase, an ER marker protein, very little overlap of p63 was found with ERGIC-53, an established marker for the ER-Golgi intermediate compartment. When rough and smooth membranes were prepared from rat liver, p63 was found to copurify with ribophorin II, a rough ER protein. Both p63 and ribophorin II were predominantly recovered in rough microsomes and were largely separated from the intermediate compartment marker protein p58. From these results it is concluded that p63 is localized in the rough ER.

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