Colchicine inhibited amylase secretion by isolated rat parotid glands only 6 h after administration of the drug in vivo. This delayed effect was not the result of the inability of the drug to reach its reaction site. When parotid glands were emptied of their secretory granules by isoproterenol treatment, the subsequent replenishment of cells with granules was inhibited by colchicines. Colchicine concomitantly produced alterations of the Golgi complexes, the cisternae of which were reduced in size and surrounded by clusters of microvesicles. Incubation of parotid glands with colchicines for prolonged durations failed to alter stored amylase secretion as stimulated by isoproterenol, but it inhibited the release of de novo synthesized enzyme. Another colchicines-binding activity, firmly bound to the particular fraction of homogenates, was found, of which a part may represent membrane located microtubular protein. An assembly-disassembly cycle of microtubules appears to exist in the parotid gland, as in the liver. However, only 14 percent of tubulin was found to be polymerized as microtubules in parotid glands as opposed to 40 percent in the liver. The present data suggest that colchicine primarily inhibits the transfer of secretory material towards or away from the Golgi complexes but not the hormone-stimulated secretion of stored amylase.
Colchicine-binding activity of mouse liver high-speed supernate has been investigated. It has been found to be time and temperature dependent. Two binding activities with different affinities for colchicine seem to be present in this high-speed supernate, of which only the high-affinity binding site (half maximal binding at 5 x 10(-6) M colchicine) can be attributed to microtubular protein by comparison with purified tubulin. Vinblastine interacted with this binding activity by precipitating it when used at high concentrations (2 x 10(-3) M), and by stabilizing it at low concentrations (10(-5) M). Lumicolchicine was found not to compete with colchicine. The colchicine-binding activity was purified from liver and compared with that of microtubular protein from brain. The specific binding activity of the resulting preparation, its electrophoretic behavior, and the electron microscope appearance of the paracrystals obtained upon its precipitation with vinblastine permitted its identification as microtubular protein (tubulin). Electrophoretic analysis of the proteins from liver supernate that were precipitated by vinblastine indicated that this drug was not specific for liver tubulin. Preincubation of liver supernate with 5 mM EGTA resulted in a time-dependent decrease of colchicine-binding activity, which was partly reversed by the addition of Ca++. However, an in vitro formation of microtubules upon lowering the Ca++ concentration could not be detected. Finally, a method was developed enabling that portion of microtubular protein which was present as free tubulin to be measured and to be compared with the total amount of this protein in the tissue. This procedure permitted demonstration of the fact that, under normal conditions, only about 40% of the tubulin of the liver was assemled as microtubules. It is suggested that, in the liver, rapid polymerization and depolymerization of microtubules occur and may be an important facet of the functional role of the microtubular system.