Endocytosis of folate-protein conjugates: Ultrastructural localization in KB cells

J. J. Turek, C. P. Leamon, P. S. Low

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199 Scopus citations


It has been demonstrated that proteins covalently conjugated to folic acid may be taken up by cells via endocytosis after binding to a folate binding protein (FBP) to the cell membrane. The proteins taken up in this manner remain catalytically active and they may modify physiological processes occurring in the cytosol. Confocal fluorescence microscopy of KB cells incubated with FITC-bovine serum albumin-folic acid conjugates showed that after uptake, the conjugates resided in large vesicular structures. The purpose of the present study was to determine the subcellular localization of protein-folic acid conjugates in KB cells using folic acid-bovine serum albumin-colloidal gold (F-BSA-CG) as a tracer. F-BSA-CG conjugates were taken up via uncoated pits or caveolae, and resided primarily in multivesicular bodies (MVBs) and other tubular endosomes at early time points (15-60 min). At later time points (6 hours), conjugates were still contained in MVBs but some were also found in secondary lysosomes or free in the cytoplasm. Coincubation of KB cells with transferrin-colloidal gold (TF-CG) and F-BSA-CG resulted in colocalization of TF-CG and F-BSA-CG within endosomal elements at times later than 15 minutes, indicating that the caveolae-mediated F-BSA-CG endocytic pathway converged with a pathway utilized by clathrin-coated pits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)423-430
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Cell Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1993


  • Caveolae
  • Endocytosis
  • Folate
  • KB cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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