Plasma membranes have been isolated from pure populations of rabbit alveolar macrophages which were swollen in water, fixed briefly with glutaraldehyde, disrupted by Dounce homogenization, and separated by sucrose gradient centrifugation. The recovered membranes exhibited good structural preservation and enzymatic activity; both morphologic and biochemical evidence indicated a high degree of purity (>90%) of the membrane preparation.
Interiorized plasma membranes were also prepared without exposure to glutaraldehyde from phagocytic vacuoles recovered from alveolar macrophages which had ingested large numbers of polystyrene spheres. These membranes were contaminated with lysosomal constituents, but they were nevertheless of value for comparison to the "pure" membranes isolated by the glutaraldehyde procedure.
Acrylamide gel electrophoresis of the solubilized plasma membranes and phagolysosomal membranes revealed similar protein patterns, with seven to nine individual components ranging in molecular weight from 70,000 to 140,000. The two most rapidly migrating components gave positive reactions for lipid as well as protein. A band containing carbohydrate was detected near the origin of the plasma membrane gels.
Antisera were made by injecting guinea pigs with the purified rabbit alveolar macrophage plasma membranes. Gel diffusion and immunoelectrophoretic study of these antisera established the presence of rabbit immunoglobulin G and of one or two other antigenic constituents in the membrane preparation.