Cholesterol-rich microdomains in rat and porcine thyroid membranes involved in TSH-induced endocytotic processes.
Filipin, a polyene antibiotic, was used to detect cholesterol in thyroid membranes in vivo and in culture during TSH stimulation. We found that apical and basolateral plasma membranes were heterogeneously modified by filipin which induced abundant lesions in apical membranes, whereas Golgi apparatus, endoplasmic reticulum, nuclear membranes were unmodified. Small apical vesicles and colloid droplets were generally highly enriched in these complexes, suggesting a high cholesterol concentration in their membranes. Pseudopod membranes, known to be highly specialized domains in the apical plasma membrane, appeared enriched in cholesterol. Consequently, we suggest that an increased cholesterol content may be involved in the stabilization of thyroid membranes during endocytotic processes.