Endocytosis of tissue-type plasminogen activator (t-PA) by different types of rat liver cells was studied in immunocytochemically labelled cryosections as well as in biochemical experiments. For morphological localization of the ligand in different endocytic compartments involved in its catabolism, rat livers were fixed at various times (1-24 min) after injection of t-PA. Late-endosomal and lysosomal compartments were identified by double-labelling the sections with antibodies to the lysosomal proteins glycoprotein Igp 120 and cathepsin D. In liver t-PA was localized in sinusoidal endothelial cells (EC), parenchymal cells (PC) and to some extent in Kupffer cells (KC), indicating that it is internalized and degraded in all three cell types. In specimens fixed 6 min after injection PC, EC and KC were found to contribute to 69, 24 and 7% respectively of total t-PA endocytosed. The transfer from late endosomes to lysosomes was found to be faster in EC than in PC. The morphological findings were supported by studies of the endocytic mechanisms employing isolated perfused livers and primary hepatocytes. The presence of monensin, an inhibitor of lysosomal protein degradation, reduced the amount of t-PA degraded to about 50% of the control values. The catalytic site seems not to be required for the catabolism of t-PA in hepatic cells. The inhibition of t-PA by D-phenylalanyl-L-prolylarginyl-chloromethane did not influence receptor recognition and catabolic processing, as determined in morphological studies using labelled cryosections, in binding studies employing liver cell membranes and primary hepatocytes, as well as in liver-perfusion experiments.
- © 1992 The Biochemical Society, London