Maize storage proteins synthesized in oocytes were compartmentalized in membrane vesicles because they were resistant to hydrolysis by protease, unless detergent was present. The site of storage protein deposition within the oocyte was determined by subcellular fractionation. Optimal separation of oocyte membranes and organelles was obtained when EDTA and high concentrations of NaCl were included in the homogenization and gradient buffers. Under these conditions, fractions in sucrose gradients containing a heterogeneous mixture of smooth membranes (presumably endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi apparatus, and plasma membrane, density = 1.10-1.12 g/cm3), mitochondria (densities = 1.14 and 1.16 g/cm3), yolk platelets (density = 1.21 g/cm3), and a dense matrix material (density = 1.22 g/cm3) could be separated. Some zein proteins were recovered in the mixed membrane fraction, but the majority occurred in vesicles sedimenting with yolk platelets and granular material at a density of approximately 1.22 g/cm3. When metrizamide was included in the gradient to increase the density, little of the dense matrix material was isolated, and vesicles containing zein proteins were separated from other oocyte components. These vesicles were similar to protein bodies in maize endosperm because they were of identical density and contained the same group of polypeptides.

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