The proteins of the contractile spasmoneme from Vorticella convallaria, Carcheslium polypinum, and Zoothamnium geniculatum have been extracted in the detergent, sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS), as well as urea and guanidine hydrochloride (GuCl). After SDS extraction, the molecular weight distribution of the proteins was examined by means of SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. Significant amounts of material corresponding to the contractile proteins actin and tubulin are not present. The contractile organelles in the three species examined contain a group of closely related proteins of molecular weight near 20,000, which constitute a major part (40-60%) of the dry mass. The 20,000 mol wt proteins in Zoothamnium bind calcium with high affinity (pK congruent to 6) and are termed "spasmins." By means of urea polyacrylamide gel electrophorsis, it is demonstrated that in Carchesium and Zoothamnium certain spasmin components bind calcium even in the presence of 6 M urea. The binding of calcium in 6 M urea suggests a functional relationship between the spasmins and the calcium-binding proteins of striated muscle which behave similarly. The calcium binding in urea also indicates that the spasmins within a single spasmoneme have different calcium affinities, and this difference in calcium-binding properties may be an important factor in the physiological function of the organelle.

This content is only available as a PDF.