Specialized plasma membranes from the endocytic complex of ileal epithelial cells of suckling rats were isolated by differential flotation. Thin-section and negative-stain electron microscopy showed the luminal surfaces of these membranes to be covered by an ordered array of particles 14.5-nm separations in long rows. This particulate coating was released from the membrane surfaces by 10 mM CaCl2 and recovered free of membranes after dialysis against 0.5 mM EGTA and high-speed centrifugation. Two proteins were resolved by gel filtration to be in supernate: n-acetyl-beta-glucosaminidase and a filamentous protein which attaches n-acetylglucosaminidase to the membrane surface thereby providing bidirectionality to the array of enzyme. We believe that the filamentous protein has not been previously described. Therefore we have called it ligatin from the latin ligare, which translates "to bind together". Furthermore, we suggest that the membranes of the endocytic complex contain sites for the extracellular digestion of carbohydrate moieties in the maternal milk.

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