A membrane fraction (MF2) has been purified from isolated microvilli of the MAT-C1 subline of the 13762 rat mammary ascites adenocarcinoma under conditions which cause F-actin depolymerization. This membrane preparation contains actin as a major component, although no filamentous structures are observed by transmission electron microscopy. Membranes were extracted with a Triton X-100-containing actin-stabilizing buffer (S buffer) or actin-destabilizing buffer (D buffer). In D buffer greater than 90% of metabolically labeled protein and glycoprotein was extracted, and 80-90% of these labeled species was extracted in S buffer. When S buffer extracts of MF2 were fractionated by either gel filtration on Sepharose 6 B or rate-zonal sucrose density gradient centrifugation, most of the actin was found to be intermediate in size between G- and F-actin. In D buffer most of the MF2 actin behaved as G-actin. Extraction and gel filtration of intact microvilli in S buffer also showed the presence of the intermediate form of actin, indicating that it did not arise during membrane preparation. When [35S]methionine-labeled G-actin from ascites cells was added to S buffer extracts of MF2 and chromatographed, all of the radioactivity chromatographed as G-actin, indicating that the intermediate form of actin did not result from an association of G-actin molecules during extraction or chromatography. The results of this study suggest that the microvillar membrane fraction is enriched in an intermediate form of actin smaller than F-actin and larger than G-actin.

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