Axenically propagated Entamoeba histolytica (HK9:NIH strain) were employed as starting material for the isoation of plasma membrane by a novel procedure. In the absence of known enzymatic markers, the externally disposed polypeptides of intact amoebae were iodinated and the incorporated label used to monitor membrane separation and recovery. 12 major plasma membrane polypeptides (12 x 10(3)-200 x 10(3) mol wt) were labeled and separated by sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. Each of these was a glycoprotein. Preincubation of amoebae with concanavalin A stabilized the plasma membranes as large sheets, facilitating its separation by low-speed centrifugation. Dissociation of the lectin with alpha-methyl mannoside, followed by additional homogenization led to vesiculation and further purification. The isolated plasma membrane was recovered in high yield (28%) and enriched 30-fold in terms of incorporated iodide. All iodinated surface glycoproteins of the intact organism were present in the plasma membrane fraction. A Ca++-dependent ATPase was enriched in the plasma membrane to a similar extent, but over one-half of the total activity was associated with internal, unlabeled membranes, suggesting a dual localization of this activity. The isolated plasma membrane was enriched in cholesterol and had a cholesterol:molar ratio of 0.87. It also contained larger amounts of an unusual phospholipid--ceramide aminoethyl phosphonate--a phospholipase-resistant species.

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