Localization of cytochrome P-450 on various membrane fractions of rat liver cells was studied by direct immunoelectron microscopy using ferritin-conjugated antibody to the cytochrome. The outer surfaces of almost all the microsomal vesicles were labeled with ferritin particles. The distribution of the particles on each microsomal vesicle was usually heterogeneous, indicating clustering of the cytochrome, and phenobarbital treatment markedly increased the labeled regions of the microsomal membranes. The outer nuclear envelopes were also labeled with ferritin particles, while on the surface of other membrane structures such as Golgi complexes, outer mitochondrial membranes and plasma membranes the labeling was scanty and at the control level. The present observation indicates that cytochrome P-450 molecules are localized exclusively on endoplasmic reticulum membranes and outer nuclear envelopes where they are probably distributed not uniformly but heterogeneously, forming clusters or patches. The physiological significance of such microheterogeneity in the distribution of the cytochrome on endoplasmic reticulum membranes is discussed.

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