Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California


UC San Francisco Previously Published Works bannerUCSF

Structure of the novel membrane-coating material in proton-secreting epithelial cells and identification as an H+ATPase.


Specialized proton-secreting cells known collectively as mitochondria-rich cells are found in a variety of transporting epithelia, including the kidney collecting duct (intercalated cells) and toad and turtle urinary bladders. These cells contain a population of characteristic tubulovesicles that are believed to be involved in the shuttling of proton pumps (H+ATPase) to and from the plasma membrane. These transporting vesicles have a dense, studlike material coating the cytoplasmic face of their limiting membranes and similar studs are also found beneath parts of the plasma membrane. We have recently shown that this membrane coat does not contain clathrin. The present study was performed to determine the structure of this coat in rapidly frozen and freeze-dried tissue, and to determine whether the coat contains a major membrane protein transported by these vesicles, a proton pumping H+ATPase. The structure of the coat was examined in proton-secreting, mitochondria-rich cells from toad urinary bladder epithelium by rapidly freezing portions of apical membrane and associated cytoplasm that were sheared away from the remainder of the cell using polylysine-coated coverslips. Regions of the underside of these apical membranes as large as 0.2 micron2 were decorated by studlike projections that were arranged into regular hexagonal arrays. Individual studs had a diameter of 9.5 nm and appeared to be composed of multiple subunits arranged around a central depression, possibly representing a channel. The studs had a density of approximately 16,800 per micron2 of membrane. Similar arrays of studs were also found on vesicles trapped in the residual band of cytoplasm that remained attached to the underside of the plasma membrane, but none were seen in adjacent granular cells. To determine whether these arrays of studs contained H+ATPase molecules, we examined a preparation of affinity-purified bovine medullary H+ATPase, using the same technique, after incorporation of the protein eluted from a monoclonal antibody affinity column into phospholipid liposomes. The affinity-purified protein was shown to be capable of ATP-dependent acidification. In such preparations, large paracrystalline arrays of studs identical in appearance to those seen in situ were found. The dimensions of the studs as well as the number per square micrometer of membrane were identical to those of toad bladder mitochondria-rich cells: 9.5 nm in diameter, 16,770 per micron2 of membrane.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View