The sites of reaction product resulting from ATPase and 5-nucleotidase activities remaining in parenchymatous cells of osmium-fixed rat liver were studied by electron microscopy of thin sections. These indicate that both ATPase and 5-nucleotidase activities are localized in the plasma membrane where it folds to form the microvilli of the bile canaliculus, and that 5-nucleotidase activity is also present in the microvilli at the sinusoidal aspects of the cells.
It is suggested that these enzymes, particularly ATPase, may play a role in molecular transport or in some kind of membrane activity at the cell surface. Of special interest is the apparent differential localization of these enzymes at the absorptive and secretory regions of the plasma membrane of the cell. It may be of interest to study changes in these enzyme localizations in pathologic states, as a sign of changed cell function.
Some of the difficulties in the interpretation of enzyme reaction products seen in electron micrographs are discussed.