Four mouse monoclonal antibodies (mabs) were shown by immunoblotting procedures to recognize the major, basic, membrane-bound Mr 43,000 protein (43K protein) of acetylcholine receptor-rich postsynaptic membranes from Torpedo nobiliana . These mabs and a mab against an extracellular determinant on the acetylcholine receptor were used to localize the two proteins in electroplax (Torpedo californica) and on unsealed postsynaptic membrane fragments at the ultrastructural level. Bound mabs were revealed with a rabbit anti-mouse Ig serum and protein A-colloidal gold. The anti-43K mabs bound only to the cytoplasmic surface of the postsynaptic membrane. The distributions of the receptor and the 43K protein along the membrane were found to be coextensive. Distances between the membrane center and gold particles were very similar for anti-receptor and anti-43K mabs (29 +/- 7 nm and 26 to 29 +/- 7 to 10 nm, respectively). These results show that the 43K protein is a receptor-specific protein having a restricted spatial relationship to the membrane. They thus support models in which the 43K protein is associated with the cytoplasmic domains of the receptor molecule.

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