Quantitative studies show that meta-vinculin is ninefold more soluble in 0.6 M salt than in the 0.01 M salt buffers used to extract vinculin. Based on this finding, we have developed a protocol for the purification of meta-vinculin in 43% yield and 98% purity from a high salt extract of gizzard smooth muscle. In contrast to our earlier extraction studies, which were done on unfixed cryostat sections (30), the present studies done on tissue homogenates show that nonionic detergents are not required for solubilization of meta-vinculin. Furthermore, neither purified nor partially purified meta-vinculin binds to Triton X-114 micelles. Purified meta-vinculin is a monomeric, asymmetric molecule with a Stokes radius of 50.9 A, a sedimentation coefficient of 6.35S, and a frictional ratio of 1.46. The calculated molecular weight of meta-vinculin is 145,000. Meta-vinculin has two isoforms of pI 5.9 and 6.2, and is phosphorylated in vivo to eightfold greater specific activity than vinculin. On immunoblots of smooth muscle proteins, [125I]meta-vinculin binds specifically to talin and also to unidentified polypeptides of 180, 150, 95, 70, 68, and 45 kD. On two-dimensional peptide maps, iodinated vinculin and meta-vinculin have at least 95% of their major chymotryptic peptides in common, but each protein also has at least one highly labeled peptide that appears to be unique. Comparative peptide maps of high salt soluble meta-vinculin and the low salt soluble 152-kD protein (described by Feramisco, J.R., J.E. Smart, K. Burridge, D. Helfman, and G.P. Thomas, 1982, J. Biol. Chem., 257:11024-11031) demonstrate extensive similarities among the vinculin-like proteins but suggest a lack of complete identity. In vivo pulse-chase experiments show that meta-vinculin and vinculin do not have a precursor-product relationship. The biochemical and structural differences found between vinculin and meta-vinculin suggest that there is a unique function for meta-vinculin in smooth muscle.

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