An antiserum which binds kinesin specifically on Western blots was used to determine the distribution and abundance of chicken kinesin by correlated immunoblotting and immunolocalization. Quantitative immunoblotting showed that the abundance of kinesin varied widely in different cell and tissue types, from 0.039% of total protein in epidermal fibroblasts to 0.309% in sympathetic neurons; of the types examined, only red blood cells lacked detectable kinesin. The molar ratio of tubulin/kinesin varied over a narrower range. To analyze the intracellular distribution of kinesin, cultured fibroblasts were fractionated by sequential extraction with saponin-, Triton X-100-, and SDS-containing buffer. Quantitative blotting of the resulting cell fractions indicated that 68% of fibroblast kinesin is in soluble form, 32% is membrane- or organelle-associated, and none is detectable in cytoskeletal fractions. To visualize this distribution, cells treated by the same extraction protocol were immunofluorescently stained with antikinesin and antitubulin. Without extraction, kinesin staining was located throughout cultured neurons and fibroblasts. However, when fibroblasts were extracted with saponin or Brij 58 before fixation, subsequent staining revealed that the remaining kinesin fraction was colocalized with interphase microtubules, but not with mitotic spindles. Prefixation extraction with Triton abolished antikinesin staining. These data suggest that kinesin may play a role in tubovesicular movement but provide no evidence for a role in mitosis.

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