Membrane IgM is expressed on the surface of B lymphocytes. It is not transported to the surface of transfected plasmacytoma or COS cells. Here, we show that mutation of four hydrophilic amino acids in the microm transmembrane is sufficient to overcome the intracellular retention of membrane IgM in non-B cells. This suggests that the B cell-specific IgM-associated proteins that have been postulated to assist the transport of membrane IgM to the cell surface (3) act either by forming a hydrophobic sheath that surrounds the microm transmembrane segment or by displacing an interaction with this segment that would otherwise cause retention. Experiments with a CD8/mu hybrid H chain indicate that the proteins that assist the transport of membrane IgM to the B cell surface at most need the mu CH4 and transmembrane/cytoplasmic portion for interaction.

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