Little is known about the identity of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) export signals and how they are used to regulate the number of proteins on the cell surface. Here, we describe two ER export signals that profoundly altered the steady-state distribution of potassium channels and were required for channel localization to the plasma membrane. When transferred to other potassium channels or a G protein-coupled receptor, these ER export signals increased the number of functional proteins on the cell surface. Thus, ER export of membrane proteins is not necessarily limited by folding or assembly, but may be under the control of specific export signals.
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