The thylakoids of cryptomonads are unique in that their lumens are filled with an electron-dense substance postulated to be phycobiliprotein. In this study, we used an antiserum against phycoerythrin (PE) 545 of Rhodomonas lens (gift of R. MacColl, New York State Department of Health, Albany, NY) and protein A-gold immunoelectron microscopy to localize this light-harvesting protein in cryptomonad cells. In sections of whole cells of R. lens labeled with anti-PE 545, the gold particles were not uniformly distributed over the dense thylakoid lumens as expected, but instead were preferentially localized either over or adjacent to the thylakoid membranes. A similar pattern of labeling was observed in cell sections labeled with two different antisera against PE 566 from Cryptomonas ovata. To determine whether PE is localized on the outer or inner side of the membrane, chloroplast fragments were isolated from cells fixed in dilute glutaraldehyde and labeled in vitro with anti-PE 545 followed by protein A-small gold. These thylakoid preparations were then fixed in glutaraldehyde followed by osmium tetroxide, embedded in Spurr, and sections were labeled with anti-PE 545 followed by protein A-large gold. Small gold particles were found only at the broken edges of the thylakoids, associated with the dense material on the lumenal surface of the membrane, whereas large gold particles were distributed along the entire length of the thylakoid membrane. We conclude that PE is located inside the thylakoids of R. lens in close association with the lumenal surface of the thylakoid membrane.

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