Nerve extracts containing tubulin labeled by axonal transport were analyzed by electrophoresis and differential extraction. We found that a substantial fraction of the tubulin in the axons of the retinal ganglion cell of guinea pigs is not solubilized by conventional methods for preparation of microtubules from whole brain. In two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis this cold-insoluble tubulin was biochemically distinct from tubulin obtained from whole brain microtubules prepared by cold cycling. Cleveland peptide maps also indicated some differences between the cold-extractable and cold-insoluble tubulins. The demonstration of cold-insoluble tubulin that is specifically axonal in origin permits consideration of the physiological role of cold-insoluble tubulin in a specific cellular structure. It appears likely that much of this material is in the form of cold-stable microtubules. We propose that the physiological role of cold-insoluble tubulin in the axon may be associated with the regulation of the axonal microtubule complexes in neurons.
Calmodulin is a soluble, heat-stable protein which has been shown to modulate both membrane-bound and soluble enzymes, but relatively little has been known about the in vivo associations of calmodulin. A 17,000-dalton heat-stable protein was found to move in axonal transport in the guinea pig visual system with the proteins of slow component b (SCb; 2 mm/d) along with actin and the bulk of the soluble proteins of the axon. Co-electrophoresis of purified calmodulin and radioactively labeled SCb proteins in two dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (PAGE) demonstrated the identity of the heat-stable SCb protein and calmodulin on the basis of pI, molecular weight, and anomalous migration in the presence of Ca2+-chelating agents. No proteins co-migrating with calmodulin in two-dimensional PAGE could be detected among the proteins of slow component a (SCa; 0.3 mm/d, microtubules and neurofilaments) or fast component (FC; 250 mm/d, membrane-associated proteins). We conclude that calmodulin is transported solely as part of the SCb complex of proteins, the axoplasmic matrix. Calmodulin moves in axonal transport independent of the movements of microtubules (SCa) and membranes (FC), which suggests that the interactions of calmodulin with these structures may represent a transient interaction between groups of proteins moving in axonal transport at different rates. Axonal transport has been shown to be an effective tool for the demonstration of long-term in vivo protein associations.