Treatment of rats with a new hypocholesterolemic drug BM 15766 induces proliferation of peroxisomes in pericentral regions of the liver lobule with distinct alterations of the peroxisomal membrane (Baumgart, E., K. Stegmeier, F. H. Schmidt, and H. D. Fahimi. 1987. Lab. Invest. 56:554-564). We have used ultrastructural cytochemistry in conjunction with immunoblotting and immunoelectron microscopy to investigate the effects of this drug on peroxisomal membranes. Highly purified peroxisomal fractions were obtained by Metrizamide gradient centrifugation from control and treated rats. Immunoblots prepared from such peroxisomal fractions incubated with antibodies to 22-, 26-, and 70-kD peroxisomal membrane proteins revealed that the treatment with BM 15766 induced only the 70-kD protein. In sections of normal liver embedded in Lowicryl K4M, all three membrane proteins of peroxisomes could be localized by the postembedding technique. The strongest labeling was obtained with the 22-kD antibody followed by the 70-kD and 26-kD antibodies. In treated animals, double-membraned loops with negative catalase reaction in their lumen, resembling smooth endoplasmic reticulum segments as well as myelin-like figures, were noted in the proximity of some peroxisomes. Serial sectioning revealed that the loops seen at some distance from peroxisomes in the cytoplasm were always continuous with the peroxisomal membranes. The double-membraned loops were consistently negative for glucose-6-phosphatase, a marker for endoplasmic reticulum, but were distinctly labeled with antibodies to peroxisomal membrane proteins. Our observations indicate that these membranous structures are part of the peroxisomal membrane system. They could provide a membrane reservoir for the proliferation of peroxisomes and the expansion of this intracellular compartment.

This content is only available as a PDF.