We have isolated highly purified coated vesicles from 17-d-old chick embryo skeletal muscle. These isolated coated vesicles contain acetylcholinesterase (AChE) in a latent, membrane-protected form as demonstrated enzymatically and morphologically using the Karnovsky and Roots histochemical procedure (J. Histochem. Cytochem., 1964, 12:219-221). By the use of appropriate inhibitors the cholinesterase activity can be shown to be specific for acetylcholine. It also can be concluded that most of the AChE represents soluble enzyme since it is rendered soluble by repeated freeze-thaw cycles. To determine the origin of the coated vesicle-associated AChE, we have isolated coated vesicles from cultured chick embryo myotubes which have been treated with diisopropylfluorophosphate, an essentially irreversible inhibitor of both intra- and extracellular AChE, and have been allowed to recover for 3 h. This time is not enough to allow any newly synthesized AChE to be secreted. These coated vesicles also contain predominantly soluble AChE. These data are compatible with the hypothesis that coated vesicles are important intermediates in the intracellular transport of newly synthesized AChE.

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