Microtubules assembled in vitro were bound to purified porcine pituitary secretory granules and to isolated granule membranes. The interaction between microtubules and whole secretory granules was demonstrated by alteration in the sedimentation properties of the microtubules. Incubation of secretory granules with microtubules resulted in pelleting of microtubules which increased as a function of the number of granules added. Binding was quantitated by measurement of the tubulin remaining in the supernate after centrifugation. The interaction of secretory granules and microtubules was inhibited by nucleoside triphosphates and augmented by adenosine 5'-monophosphate and adenosine. When depolymerized protein from microtubules was incubated with secretory granules, the granules did not appear to bind the soluble tubulin dimer present in these preparations. However, the high molecular weight protein associated with microtubules was adsorbed by secretory granules during the binding process. Incubation of isolated secretory granule membranes with microtubules followed by centrifugation to density equilibrium in a discontinuous sucrose density gradient caused pelleting of the membranes, which otherwise banded higher in the gradient. The visible alteration in membrane sedimentation was confirmed by measurements of the membrane-associated magnesium-ATPase activity and by a shift in radioactivity in iodinated membrane preparations. Our data suggest a role for microtubules in the intracellular movement of secretory granules; this movement is perhaps brought about by dynein-like cross bridges which link the tubulin backbone and granule surface.

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