Immunoglobulin G Is a Novel Substrate for the Endocytic Protein Megalin

Mark A. Bryniarski, Bei Zhao, Lee D. Chaves, Jakob Hauge Mikkelsen, Benjamin M. Yee, Rabi Yacoub, Shichen Shen, Mette Madsen, Marilyn E. Morris*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Therapeutic immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies comprise the largest class of protein therapeutics. Several factors that influence their overall disposition have been well-characterized, including target-mediated mechanics and convective flow. What remains poorly defined is the potential for non-targeted entry into various tissues or cell types by means of uptake via cell surface receptors at those sites. Megalin and cubilin are large endocytic receptors whose cooperative function plays important physiological roles at the tissues in which they are expressed. One such example is the kidney, where loss of either results in significant declines in proximal tubule protein reabsorption. Due to their diverse ligand profile and broad tissue expression, megalin and cubilin represent potential candidates for receptor-mediated uptake of IgG into various epithelia. Therefore, the objective of the current work was to determine if IgG was a novel ligand of megalin and/or cubilin. Direct binding was measured for human IgG with both megalin and the cubilin/amnionless complex. Additional work focusing on the megalin-IgG interaction was then conducted to build upon these findings. Cell uptake studies using megalin ligands for competitive inhibition or proximal tubule cells stably transduced with megalin-targeted shRNA constructs supported a role for megalin in the endocytosis of human IgG. Furthermore, a pharmacokinetic study using transgenic mice with a kidney-specific mosaic knockout of megalin demonstrated increased urinary excretion of human IgG in megalin knockout mice when compared to wild-type controls. These findings indicate that megalin is capable of binding and internalizing IgG via a high affinity interaction.

Original languageEnglish
Article number40
JournalThe AAPS Journal
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • kidney
  • megalin/cubilin
  • monoclonal antibodies
  • pharmacokinetics
  • receptor-mediated endocytosis


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