Indirect immunofluorescence was used to establish a domain-specific marker for hepatocyte plasma membranes. In frozen sections of fixed rat liver (0.5-4 microns), antibodies directed against rat intestinal leucine aminopeptidase (LAP) recognized an antigen that was restricted to the bile canalicular plasma membrane. Fluorescence was not observed on the sinusoidal or lateral membranes, and intracellular staining was not detected. The liver antigen was identified as LAP, based on its chemical similarity to intestinal LAP. First, immunoprecipitation experiments using trypsin-solubilized intestinal LAP (G-200 fraction, 91% pure) established a correlation between the loss of LAP enzyme activity from the soluble fraction and the appearance in the specific immunoprecipitates of polypeptides migrating on SDS PAGE between 110,000 and 130,000 daltons. The antigen precipitated from a detergent extract of liver plasma membranes had the same electrophoretic mobility. Second, the chymotryptic map of the major band in the liver immunoprecipitate was similar to that of purified intestinal LAP.

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