Aggregates of intramembrane particles appear in the luminal membranes of renal collecting duct and amphibian bladder cells after stimulation by antidiuretic hormone (ADH). We undertook this freeze-fracture study to determine whether particle aggregates, once in place, remain in the luminal membrane of the amphibian bladder after the membrane is physically separated from the rest of the cell. We found that the aggregates do remain in high yield in isolated membranes stabilized with a bifunctional imidoester (DTBP) followed by fixation with glutaraldehyde, or unfixed but stabilized with DTBP. These findings support the view that the particles are intrinsic membrane components and that their organization in the form of aggregates does not depend on the presence of the intact cell. In addition, the availability of isolated membranes containing particle aggregates provides a starting point for the isolation of the water-conducting proteins.

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