One of the major proteins of the chicken intestinal microvillus is a calmodulin-binding protein of 105-110 kdaltons which has been tentatively identified as the bridge linking the microvillar filament bundle laterally to the membrane. We have treated isolated, membrane-intact brush borders with ATP and obtained solubilization of the 110-kdalton protein, calmodulin (CM), myosin, and lesser amounts of several other cytoskeletal proteins. Electron micrographs of ATP-extracted brush borders showed loss of the linkers between the actin filament bundle and the microvillar membrane, with "ballooning" of the membrane away from the filament bundle, particularly at the tip end. In brush borders treated with calcium and trifluoperazine to solubilize CM, precise arrangement and morphology of lateral bridges was unperturbed, but ATP treatment would no longer solubilize the 110-kdalton protein. This result suggests that associated CM is necessary for the ATP-induced solubilization of the 110-kdalton protein. A 110-kdalton protein-CM complex, with 110-kdalton protein: CM ratios of 1:1-2, was partially purified from ATP-extracts of brush borders by a combination of gel filtration and hydroxylapatite chromatography. The 110-kdalton protein-CM complex is an irregular, elongated molecule that ranged in size from 5 X 8 nm to 8 X 14 nm, with a Stokes' radius of 6.1 nm. This 110-kdalton protein-CM complex exhibited no Mg++-ATPase activity and no detectable myosin light chain kinase activity. In co-sedimentation assays, the 110-kdalton protein-CM bound to F-actin in the absence but not the presence of ATP. Both the interaction of the complex with actin and the binding of CM to the 110-kdalton protein were calcium-independent. Negative stains of F-actin and 110-kdalton protein-CM in the absence of ATP showed loosely organized aggregates of actin with the 110-kdalton protein-CM complex coating the surface of the filaments. On the basis of our data, and in agreement with previous calculations (Matsudaira, P.T., and D.R. Burgess, 1979, J. Cell Biol. 83:667-673), we suggest that the lateral bridge of the microvillus is composed of a dimer of the 110-kdalton protein with four associated calmodulins.

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