A plasma membrane fraction of HeLa S3 cells, consisting of ghosts, is characterized more fully. A simple procedure is described which permits light and electron microscope study of the plasma membrane fraction through the entire depth of the final product pellet and through large areas parallel to the surface. Contamination by nuclei is 0.14%, too little for DNA detection by the diphenylamine reaction. Contamination by rough endoplasmic reticulum and ribosomes is small, a single ghost containing about 3% of the RNA in a single cell. Mitochondria were not encountered. Electron microscopy also shows (a) small vesicles associated with the outer surface of the ghosts, and (b) a filamentous web at the inner face of the ghost membrane. Sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS)-polyacrylamide gel analysis shows that of the many Coomassie Blue-stained bands two were prominent. One, 43,000 daltons, co-migrated with purified rabbit muscle actin and constituted about 7.5% of the plasma membrane protein. The other major band, 34,000 daltons, was concentrated in the plasma membrane fraction. Two major glycoproteins detected by autoradiography of [14C]fucose-labeled glycoproteins on the gels, had apparent molecular weights of 35,000 daltons and 32,000 daltons. These major bands did not stain with Coomassie Blue. There were many other minor glycoprotein bands in the 200,000- to 80,000-dalton range. Ouabain-sensitive, Na+, K+-adenosine triphosphatase (ATPase) activity of the ghost fraction is purified 9.1 (+/- 2.2) times over the homogenate; recover of the activity is 12.0 (+/- 3.8%) of the homogenate. Enrichment and recovery of fucosylglycoprotein parallel those for ouabain-sensitive Na+, K+-ATPase activity. Fucosyl glycoprotein is recovered more than the enzyme activity in a smooth membrane vesicle fraction probably containing the bulk of plasma membrane not recovered as ghosts.

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