Plasma membranes were isolated from the ameba Acanthamoeba castellanii by low-speed velocity centrifugation followed by equilibrium centrifugation in a sucrose gradient. The isolated membranes had a high ratio of sterol to phospholipid (0.98 moles/mole) and of phospholipid to protein (0.43 mg/mg). The plasma membranes had very low concentrations of DNA, RNA, lipid inositol, and glycerides. Glycolipids and glycoproteins were enriched in the plasma membranes relative to their concentrations in the whole cell. The plasma membranes were also judged to be of high purity by the absence, or very low level, of enzymatic activities considered to be indicative of other cell membranes, and by electron microscope examination. Alkaline phosphatase and 5'-nucleotidase activities were enriched in the plasma membranes 13-fold relative to the whole homogenate and had higher specific activities in the plasma membranes than in any other cell fractions. A Mg++ adenosine triphosphatase (ATPase) was enriched sixfold in the plasma membranes relative to the whole homogenate. The phospholipids of the plasma membranes contained more phosphatidylethanolamine and phosphatidylserine and less phosphatidylcholine than did the phospholipids of the whole cells. There were differences in the fatty acid compositions of corresponding phospholipids in the plasma membranes and whole cells but no difference in the ratios of total saturated to unsaturated fatty acids. The membranes of phagosomes isolated from amebae that had ingested polystyrene latex had essentially the same phospholipid, sterol, and enzymatic composition as plasma membranes.

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