Several types of cells store proteins in secretory vesicles from which they are released by an appropriate stimulus. It might be expected that the secretory vesicles in different cell types use similar molecular machinery. Here we describe a transmembrane glycoprotein (Mr approximately 100,000) that is present in secretory vesicles in all neurons and endocrine cells studied, in species from elasmobranch fish to mammals, and in neural and endocrine cell lines. It was detected by cross-reactivity with monoclonal antibodies raised to highly purified cholinergic synaptic vesicles from the electric organ of fish. By immunoprecipitation of intact synaptic vesicles and electron microscopic immunoperoxidase labeling, we have shown that the antigenic determinant is on the cytoplasmic face of the synaptic vesicles. However, the electrophoretic mobility of the antigen synthesized in the presence of tunicamycin is reduced to Mr approximately 62,000, which suggests that the antigen is glycosylated and must therefore span the vesicle membrane.

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