Antisera against purified acetylcholine receptors from the electric tissues of Torpedo californica and of Electrophorus electricus were raised in rabbits. The antisera contain antibodies which bind to both autologous and heterologous receptors in solution as shown by an immunoprecipitation assay. Antibodies in both types of antisera bind specifically to the postjunctional membrane on the innervated surface of the intact electroplax from Electrophorus electric tissue as demonstrated by an indirect immunohistochemical procedure using horseradish peroxidase conjugated to anti-rabbit IgG. Only anti-Electrophorus receptor antisera, however, cause inhibition of the receptor-mediated depolarization of the intact Electrophorus electroplax. The lack of inhibition by anti-Torpedo receptor antibodies, which do bind, suggests that the receptor does not undergo extensive movement during activity. The binding of anti-Torpedo antibodies to receptor-rich vesicles prepared by subcellular fractionation of Torpedo electric tissue was demonstrated by both direct and indirect immunohistochemical methods using ferritin conjugates. These vesicles can be conveniently collected and prepared for electron microscopy on Millipore filters, a procedure requiring only 25 micrograms of membrane protein per filter. In addition, it was possible to visualize the binding of anti-Torpedo receptor antibodies directly, without ferritin. These anti-Torpedo receptor antibodies, however, do not inhibit the binding of acetylcholine or of alpha-neurotoxin to receptor in Torpedo microsacs but do inhibit binding of alpha-neurotoxin to Torpedo receptor in Triton X-100 solution. It is likely that the principal antigenic determinants on receptor are at sites other than the acetylcholine-binding sites and that inhibition of receptor function, when it occurs, may be due to a stabilization by antibody binding of an inactive conformational state.

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