Fast transport of axonal vesicles and organelles is a microtubule-associated movement (Griffin, J. W., K. E. Fahnestock, L. Price, and P. N. Hoffman, 1983, J. Neuroscience, 3:557-566; Schnapp, B. J., R. D. Vale, M. P. Sheetz, and T. S. Reese, 1984, Cell, 40:455-462; Allen, R. D., D. G. Weiss, J. H. Hayden, D. T. Brown, H. Fujiwake, and M. Simpson, 1985, J. Cell Biol., 100:1736-1752). Proteins that mediate the interactions of axoplasmic vesicles and microtubules were studied using stable complexes of microtubules and vesicles (MtVC). These complexes formed spontaneously in vitro when taxol-stabilized microtubules were mixed with sonically disrupted axoplasm from the giant axon of the squid Loligo pealei. The isolated MtVCs contain a distinct subset of axoplasmic proteins, and are composed primarily of microtubules and attached membranous vesicles. The MtVC also contains nonmitochondrial ATPase activity. The binding of one high molecular mass polypeptide to the complex is significantly enhanced by ATP or adenyl imidodiphosphate. All of the axoplasmic proteins and ATPase activity that bind to microtubules are found in macromolecular complexes and appear to be vesicle-associated. These data allow the identification of several vesicle-associated proteins of the squid giant axon and suggest that one or more of these polypeptides mediates vesicle binding to microtubules.

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