The specific and azurophilic granules of rabbit polymorphonuclear heterophils (PMNs) have been isolated and fractionated into membrane and extractable subfractions. Analysis by sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS PAGE) revealed several features of the protein composition of the two granules: (a) Whereas each type of granule had 40-60 proteins separable on one-dimensional gradient gels, few of the proteins were common to both granules. (b) The proteins of the extractable fractions (which comprised approximately 98% of the total granule protein) of each granule were distinct from the proteins of the membrane fractions (which comprised approximately 2% of the total granule protein). (c) The extractable proteins co-migrated with those collected from the medium of ionophore-treated, degranulating PMNs and therefore were defined as content proteins. These results were confirmed by radiolabeling studies. Lactoperoxidase-catalyzed iodination of intact granules did not label the content proteins but did label proteins that co-migrated with major granule membrane proteins. Moreover, disruption of the granules before iodination led to labeling of both content and membrane proteins. We conclude that the membranes of specific and azurophilic granules, which arise from different faces of the Golgi complex, are composed of unique sets of membrane proteins some of which are exposed on the cytoplasmic face of the granules.

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