The neonatal Fc receptor, FcRn, transports immunoglobulin G (IgG) across cellular barriers between mother and offspring. FcRn also protects circulating IgG from catabolism, probably during transport across the capillary endothelium. Only one cell culture model of transcytosis has been used extensively, the transport of IgA from the basolateral to the apical surface of Madin-Darby canine kidney cells by the polymeric immunoglobulin receptor (pIgR). We report that rat inner medullary collecting duct (IMCD) cells transfected with DNA encoding the (alpha) subunit of rat FcRn specifically and saturably transport Fc when grown as polarized monolayers. Using this system, we have found that transcytosis by FcRn, like transcytosis by the pIgR, depends upon an intact microtubule system. FcRn differs most strikingly from the pIgR in its ability to transport its ligand in both the apical to basolateral and basolateral to apical directions. The phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase inhibitors wortmannin and LY294002 inhibited basolateral to apical transport by FcRn more than apical to basolateral transport, suggesting that there are differences in the mechanisms of transport in the two directions. Lastly, we found that transcytosis by FcRn depends upon vesicular acidification. We anticipate that the IMCD cell culture model will allow further elucidation of the mechanism of IgG transport by FcRn.

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