Fifteen peptides, ranging in length from 6 to 31 amino acids and corresponding in sequence to portions of the major phenobarbital-inducible form of rat liver cytochrome P-450 (P-450 PB-4), were previously synthesized chemically and used to prepare site-specific rabbit antibodies (Frey, A. B., D.J. Waxman, and G. Kreibich, 1985, J. Biol. Chem., 260:15253-15265). The antipeptide antibodies were affinity purified using Sepharose resins derivatized with the respective peptides and 14 preparations were obtained that in an ELISA assay showed affinities to immobilized P-450 judged to be adequate for binding studies on intact rat liver microsomes. The binding of these antibodies to rough microsomes from the livers of phenobarbital treated rats was assessed using 125I-labeled IgG and by immunoelectron microscopy employing protein A-gold as a marker. It was found that many of the antibodies bound to the cytoplasmic surface of the membrane but none bound to the luminal face of ruptured or inverted microsomal vesicles or to contaminating membranes of other organelles present in the preparations. These observations eliminate previously proposed models for the transmembrane disposition of P-450 that postulate the existence of multiple transmembrane domains and the exposure of several polar segments of the polypeptide on the luminal side of the membrane. The fact that an antibody raised to the first 31 residues of P-450 bound well to the purified P-450 but very poorly to rough microsomes, whereas an antibody to a peptide comprising residues 24-38 showed relatively strong binding to intact microsomes, is consistent with the proposal that the amino terminal segment of P-450 extending approximately to residue 20 is embedded in the phospholipid bilayer and the immediately following segment is exposed on the cytoplasmic surface of the membrane. All these results favor a model in which the cytochrome P-450 molecule is largely exposed on the cytoplasmic surface of the endoplasmic reticulum membrane to which it is anchored by its short amino terminal hydrophobic segment.

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