Polarised secretion of leukaemia inhibitory factor
Leukaemia inhibitory factor (LIF) is a cytokine that is active on a wide variety of cells. Multiple LIF transcripts have been described. The transcripts LIF-D and LIF-M encode different signal peptides, which in mouse have been associated with differential localisation of the mature protein. LIF-D is associated with a freely diffusible protein, whereas the LIF-M is associated with the extracellular matrix. The polarity of LIF secretion has yet to be described and could illuminate the mechanisms of LIF localisation. Here the polarised endogenous secretion of human LIF and IL-6 in Caco-2 cells was characterised under normal culture conditions and following induction with IL-1b. Whether the apical or basolateral membrane was stimulated influenced the pattern of secretion (LIF: Unstimulated, 59% basolateral. Dual stimulation, 68% basolateral. Basolateral stimulation, 79% basolateral. Apical stimulation, 53% basolateral). IL-6 displayed a similar dependence on the site of stimulation but was predominantly secreted at the membrane that was stimulated. To determine the effect of the alternate signal peptides on the polarity of LIF secretion, LIF was epitope tagged with FLAG. Epitope-tagging with FLAG was used to separate endogenous from exogenous protein expression. However, despite the normal biological activity of LIF-FLAG and detection of the FLAG in a western blot, detection of the LIF-FLAG under non-reducing conditions was not observed, and therefore it was unsuitable for secretion studies. Untagged LIF was expressed exogenously in Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells under the control of a tetracycline response promoter that allowed a variety of LIF expression levels to be tested. Exogenous murine LIF was secreted predominantly from the apical (60%) membrane of MDCK cells irrespective of the signal peptide expressed.