Members of the Rab subfamily of small GTPases play an important role in the regulation of intracellular transport routes. Rab6A has been shown to be a regulator of membrane traffic from the Golgi apparatus towards the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Here, we report on the identification of a Rab6 isoform, termed Rab6B. The corresponding full-length cDNA was isolated from a Caco-2 cell library. The deduced amino acid sequence showed 91% identity with the Rab6A protein and revealed that sequence divergence is dispersed over a large region of the COOH-terminal domain. Rab6B is encoded by an independent gene which is located on chromosome 3 region q21-q23. In contrast to Rab6A whose expression is ubiquitous, northern blot analysis, immunohistochemistry, and immunofluorescence demonstrated that Rab6B is expressed in a tissue and cell-type specific manner. Rab6B is predominantly expressed in brain and the neuroblastoma cell line SK-N-SH. In brain, Rab6B was found to be specifically expressed in microglia, pericytes and Purkinje cells. Endogenous Rab6B localises to the Golgi apparatus and to ERGIC-53-positive vesicles. Comparable studies between Rab6A and Rab6B revealed distinct biochemical and cellular properties. Rab6B displayed lower GTP-binding activities and in overexpression studies, the protein is distributed over Golgi and ER membranes, whereas Rab6A is more restricted to the Golgi apparatus. Since the GTP-bound form of Rab6B (Rab6B Q72L) does interact with all known Rab6A effectors, including Rabkinesin-6, the results suggest a cell-type specific role for Rab6B in retrograde membrane traffic at the level of the Golgi complex.
- © 2000 by Company of Biologists