A preparation, similar to the light mitochondrial fraction of rat liver (L fraction of de Duve et al, (1955, Biochem. J. 60: 604-617), was subfractionated by isopycnic centrifugation in a metrizamide gradient and the distribution of several marker enzymes was established. The granules were layered at the top or bottom of the gradient. In both cases, as ascertained by the enzyme distributions, the lysosomes are well separated from the peroxisomes. A good separation from mitochondria is obtained only when the L fraction if set down underneath the gradient. Taking into account the analytical centrifugation results, a procedure was devised to purify lysosomes from several grams of liver by centrifugation of an L fraction in a discontinuous metrizamide gradient. By this method, a fraction containing 10--12% of the whole liver lysosomes can be prepared. As inferred from the relative specific activity of marker enzymes, it can be estimated that lysosomes are purified between 66 and 80 times in this fraction. As ascertained by plasma membrane marker enzyme activity, the main contaminant could be the plasma membrane components. However, cytochemical tests for 5'AMPase and for acid phosphatase suggest that a large part of the plasma membrane marker enzyme activity present in the purified lysosome preparation could be associated with the lysosomal membrane. The procedure for the isolation of rat liver lysosomes described in this paper is compared with the already existing methods.

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