Autophagic vacuoles form within 15 min of perfusing a liver with amino acid-depleted medium. These vacuoles are bound by a "smooth" double membrane and do not contain acid phosphatase activity. In an attempt to identify the membrane source of these vacuoles, I have used morphological techniques combined with immunological probes to localize specific membrane antigens to the limiting membranes of newly formed or nascent autophagic vacuoles. Antibodies to three integral membrane proteins of the plasma membrane (CE9, HA4, and epidermal growth factor receptor) and one of the Golgi apparatus (sialyltransferase) did not label these vacuoles. Internalized epidermal growth factor and its membrane receptor were not found in nascent autophagic vacuoles but were present in lysosome-like degradative autophagic vacuoles. All these results suggested that autophagic vacuoles were not formed from plasma membrane, Golgi apparatus, or endosome constituents. Antisera prepared against integral membrane proteins (14, 25, and 40 kD) of the RER was found to label the inner and outer limiting membranes of almost all nascent autophagic vacuoles. In addition, ribophorin II was identified at the limiting membranes of many nascent autophagic vacuoles. Finally, secretory proteins, rat serum albumin and alpha 2u-globulin, were localized to the lumen of the RER and to the intramembrane space between the inner and outer membranes of some of these vacuoles. The results were consistent with the formation of autophagic vacuoles from ribosome-free regions of the RER.

This content is only available as a PDF.