Plasma membranes of P815 mastocytoma cells contain a set of proteins that remain selectively insoluble upon extraction of the membranes with Triton X-100, and appear to form a membrane skeletal matrix independent of the filamentous cytoskeletal systems. EGTA treatment of the matrix was found to release approximately 25% of the protein as polypeptides of 70, 69, 38, and 36 kD, all of which appear to be peripheral components associated with the cytoplasmic face of the plasma membrane via divalent cation-dependent interactions. About 75% of the total matrix protein was recovered in the EGTA-insoluble fraction. Actin accounted for approximately 5% of the total protein in the EGTA-insoluble fraction. The rest was accounted for by two novel proteins of 20 and 40 kD which, despite their relatively low molecular weights, do not enter SDS PAGE gels. Together these proteins account for approximately 15% of the total plasma membrane protein, and are thus present in much higher amounts than any other characterized protein of nucleated cell plasma membranes. Based on the extensive associations of these proteins to form very large detergent-insoluble structures, we propose that they may be named agorin I, the 20-kD protein, and agorin II, the 40-kD protein, from the Greek agora meaning assembly. The amount and properties of these proteins and the appearance of the EGTA-insoluble material in thin-section electron micrographs indicate that the agorins are the major structural elements of the membrane matrix, and thus of the putative membrane skeleton.

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