Plasma membranes from KB cells were isolated by the method of latex bead ingestion and were compared with those obtained by the ZnCl2 method. Optimal conditions for bead uptake and the isolation procedure employing discontinuous sucrose gradient centrifugation are described. All steps of preparative procedure were monitored by electron microscopy and specific enzyme activities. The plasma membrane fraction obtained by both methods is characterized by the presence of the Na+ + K+-activated ATPase and 5'-nucleotidase, and contains NADPH-cytochrome c reductase and cytochrome b5. The latter two enzymes are also present in lower concentrations in the microsomal fraction. Unlike microsomes which are devoid of the Na+ + K+-activated ATPase and which contain only traces of 5'-nucleotidase activity, the plasma membrane fraction contains only trace amounts of the rotenone-insensitive NADH-cytochrome c reductase but no cytochrome P-450, both of which are mainly microsomal components. Morphologically the plasma membrane fraction isolated by the latex bead method is composed of vesicles of 0.1–0.3 µm in diameter. On the basis of the biochemical and morphological criteria presented, it is concluded that the plasma membrane fraction isolated by the above methods are of high degree of purity.

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