A highly purified membrane preparation from rat parotid secretion granules has been used as a comparative probe to examine the extent of compositional overlap in granule membranes of three other exocrine secretory tissues--pancreatic, lacrimal, and submandibular--from several standpoints. First, indirect immunofluorescent studies using a polyclonal polyspecific anti-parotid granule membrane antiserum has indicated a selective staining of granule membrane profiles in all acinar cells of all tissues. Second, highly purified granule membrane subfractions have been isolated from each exocrine tissue; comparative two-dimensional (isoelectric focusing; SDS) PAGE of radioiodinated granule membranes has identified 10-15 polypeptides of identical pI and apparent molecular mass. These species are likely to be integral membrane components since they are not extracted by either saponin-sodium sulfate or sodium carbonate (pH 11.5) treatments, and they do not have counterparts in the granule content. Finally, the identity among selected parotid and pancreatic radioiodinated granule membrane polypeptides has been documented using two-dimensional peptide mapping of chymotryptic and tryptic digests. These findings clearly indicate that exocrine secretory granules, irrespective of the nature of stored secretion, comprise a type of vesicular carrier with a common (and probably refined) membrane composition. Conceivably, the polypeptides identified carry out general functions related to exocrine secretion.

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