We have localized and identified five rat hepatocyte plasma membrane proteins using hybridoma technology in combination with morphological and biochemical methods. Three different membrane preparations were used as immunogens: isolated hepatocytes, a preparation of plasma membrane sheets that contained all three recognizable surface domains of the intact hepatocyte (sinusoidal, lateral, and bile canalicular), and a glycoprotein subfraction of that plasma membrane preparation. We selected monoclonal IgGs that were hepatocyte specific and localized them using both immunofluorescence on 0.5-micron sections of frozen liver and immunoperoxidase at the ultrastructural level. One antigen (HA 4) was localized predominantly to the bile canalicular surface, whereas three (CE 9, HA 21, and HA 116) were localized predominantly to the lateral and sinusoidal surfaces. One antigen (HA 16) was present in all three domains. Only one antigen (HA 116) could be detected in intracellular structures both in the periphery of the cell and in the Golgi region. The antigens were all integral membrane proteins as judged by their stability to alkaline extraction and solubility in detergents. The apparent molecular weights of the antigens were established by immunoprecipitation and/or immunoblotting. In a related study (Bartles, J.R., L.T. Braiterman, and A.L. Hubbard, 1985, J. Cell. Biol., 100:1126-1138), we present biochemical confirmation of the domain-specific localizations for two of the antigens, HA 4 and CE 9, and demonstrate their suitability as endogenous domain markers for monitoring the separation of bile canalicular and sinusoidal lateral membrane on sucrose density gradients.

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