A novel membrane protein from rat brain synaptic vesicles with an apparent 29,000 Mr (p29) was characterized. Using monospecific polyclonal antibodies, the distribution of p29 was studied in a variety of tissues by light and electron microscopy and immunoblot analysis. Within the nervous system, p29 was present in virtually all nerve terminals. It was selectively associated with small synaptic vesicles and a perinuclear region corresponding to the area of the Golgi complex. P29 was not detected in any other subcellular organelles including large dense-core vesicles. The distribution of p29 in various subcellular fractions from rat brain was very similar to that of synaptophysin and synaptobrevin. The highest enrichment occurred in purified small synaptic vesicles. Outside the nervous system, p29 was found only in endocrine cell types specialized for peptide hormone secretion. In these cells, p29 had a distribution very similar to that of synaptophysin. It was associated with microvesicles of heterogeneous size and shape that are primarily concentrated in the centrosomal-Golgi complex area. Secretory granules were mostly unlabeled, but their membrane occasionally contained small labeled evaginations. Immunoisolation of subcellular organelles from undifferentiated PC12 cells with antisynaptophysin antibodies led to a concomitant enrichment of p29, synaptobrevin, and synaptophysin, further supporting a colocalization of all three proteins. P29 has an isoelectric point of approximately 5.0 and is not N-glycosylated. It is an integral membrane protein and all antibody binding sites are exposed on the cytoplasmic side of the vesicles. Two monoclonal antibodies raised against p29 cross reacted with synaptophysin, indicating the presence of related epitopes. P29, like synaptophysin, was phosphorylated on tyrosine residues by endogenous tyrosine kinase activity in intact vesicles.

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