Using fluorescent antibody staining, we have established the association of methionyl-tRNA synthetase with the endoplasmic reticulum in PtK2 cells. After Triton X-100 extraction, 70% of the recovered aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase activity was found in the detergent-insoluble fraction. This fraction of the enzyme remained localized with insoluble endoplasmic reticulum antigens and with ribosomes, which were stained with acridine orange. By both fluorescence microscopy and electron microscopy the organization of the detergent-insoluble residue was found to depend on the composition of the extracting solution. After extraction with a microtubule-stabilizing buffer containing EGTA, Triton X-100, and polyethylene glycol (Osburn, M., and K. Weber, 1977, Cell, 12:561-571) the ribosomes were aggregated in large clusters with remnants of membranes. After extraction with a buffer containing Triton X-100, sucrose, and CaCl2 (Fulton, A. B., K. M. Wang, and S. Penman, 1980, Cell, 20:849-857), the ribosomes were in small clusters and there were few morphologically recognizable membranes. In both cases the methionyl-tRNA synthetase and some endoplasmic reticulum antigens retained approximately their normal distribution in the cell. Double fluorochrome staining showed no morphological association of methionyl-tRNA synthetase with the microtubule, actin, or cytokeratin fiber systems of PtK2 cells. These observations demonstrate that detergent-insoluble cellular components, sometimes referred to as "cytoskeletal" preparations, contain significant amounts of nonfilamentous material including ribosomes, and membrane residue. Caution is required in speculating about intermolecular associations in such a complex cell fraction.

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