The proteins and lipids of the scallop gill ciliary membrane may be reassociated through several cycles of detergent solubilization, detergent removal, and freeze-thaw, without significant change in overall protein composition. Membrane proteins and lipids reassociate to form vesicles of uniform, discrete density classes under a variety of reassociation conditions involving detergent removal and concentration. Freed of the solubilizing detergent during equilibrium centrifugation, a protein-lipid complex equilibrates to a position on a sucrose density gradient characteristic of the original membrane density. When axonemal tubulin is solubilized by dialysis, mixed with 2:1 lecithin/cholesterol dissolved in Nonidet P-40, freed of detergent, and reconstituted by freeze-thaw, vesicles of a density essentially equal to pure lipid result. If the lipid fraction is derived through chloroform-methanol extraction of natural ciliary membranes, a moderate increase in density occurs upon reconstitution, but the protein is adsorbed and most is removed by a simple low ionic strength wash, in contrast to vesicles reconstituted from membrane proteins where even high salt extraction causes no loss of protein. The proteins of the ciliary membrane dissolve with constant composition, regardless of the type, concentration, or efficiency of detergent. Analytical ultracentrifugation demonstrates that monodisperse mixed micelles form at high detergent concentrations, but that membranes are dispersed to large sedimentable aggregates by Nonidet P-40 even at several times the critical micelle concentration, which suggests reasons for the efficacy of certain detergent for the production of ATP-reactivatable cell models. In extracts freed of detergent, structured polydisperse particles, but not membrane vesicles, are seen in negative staining; vesicles form upon concentration of the extract. Membrane tubulin is not in a form that will freely undergo electrophoresis, even in the presence of detergent above the critical micelle concentration. All chromatographic attempts to separate membrane tubulin from other membrane proteins have failed; lipid and protein are excluded together by gel filtration in the presence of high concentrations of detergent. These observations support the idea that a relatively stable lipid-protein complex exists in the ciliary membrane and that in this complex membrane tubulin is tightly associated with lipids and with a number of other proteins.

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