We describe here the properties of a mutant of Chinese hamster ovary cells that expresses a conditional-lethal mutation affecting dense lysosomes. This mutant, termed V.24.1, is a member of the End4 complementation group of temperature-sensitive mutants selected for resistance to protein toxins (Colbaugh, P. A., C.-Y. Kao, S.-P. Shia, M. Stookey, and R. K. Draper. 1988. Somatic Cell Mol. Genet. 14:499-507). Vesicles present in postnuclear supernatants prepared from V.24.1 cells harvested at the restrictive temperature had a 50% reduction in acidification activity, assessed by the ATP-stimulated accumulation of the dye acridine orange in acidic vesicles. To investigate whether specific populations of vesicles were impaired in acidification, we measured acidification activity in three subcellular fractions prepared from Percoll gradients: one containing endosomal and Golgi markers, one containing buoyant lysosomes, and the third containing dense lysosomes. Activity in dense lysosomes was reduced by 90%, activity in the buoyant lysosome fraction was unaffected, and activity in the endosome-Golgi fraction was mildly reduced. The activity of three lysosomal enzymes--beta-hexosaminidase, beta-galactosidase, and beta-glucocerebrosidase--was also reduced in dense lysosomes but nearly normal in the buoyant lysosome fraction. However, beta-hexosaminidase and beta-glucocerebrosidase activity was increased two- to threefold in the endosome-Golgi fraction. We conclude that the lesion selectively impairs dense lysosomes but has little effect on properties of buoyant lysosomes.

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