Distribution of acid hydrolases in subcellular fractions of proliferating vs non-proliferating fibroblasts

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We have employed colloidal silica (Percoll) density-gradient subcellular fractionation technique to examine the distribution of lysosomal hydrolases between intermediate vesicles (primary lysosomes) and secondary lysosomes in contact-inhibited non-proliferating vs proliferating chicken embryo fibroblasts. We find that the activities of lysosomal specific enzymes from both phases of growth are distributed within two peaks; however, the relative amounts differ markedly. In normal, non-proliferating cells approx. 60% of the total activities of cathepsin B, β-mannosidase, α-fucosidase, β-galactosidase and hexosaminidase is recovered in the heavier density fraction corresponding to secondary lysosomes, while less than 9% of the enzyme activities are recovered in the light-density peak. With transformed cells, between 16 and 22% of activity for these enzymes are recovered in the lighter density intermediate vesicle fraction, when less than 40% of the enzyme activities recovered in the heavy density fraction. β-Glucuronidase distribution was different from that of the above enzymes. First, a more even distribution between the two lysosomal fractions was found with non-proliferating normal cells (33% in heavy-density fraction and 21% in light-density fraction), whereas more than 40% of the total enzyme activity was recovered in the lighter density fraction from transformed cells. Also, the amount of cathepsin B contained in the vesicle fractions is increased severalfold relative to that of contact-inhibited normal cells. However, the apparent differences in enzyme distribution between confluent normal and transformed cells are not found when vesicles are prepared from subconfluent, actively proliferating cultures. We have also compared the Percoll density gradient patterns of membrane vesicles from proliferating and non-proliferating human fibroblasts, since most earlier studies utilized this system. Again, we find that the majority of β-hexosaminidase activity (41%) of contact-inhibited, confluent cells is recovered in the heavier denity fraction with less than 15% in the lighter density fraction. Also, the distribution of β-hexosaminidase between the heavy density and light density vesicle fractions is altered in homogenates from exponentially growing cells, being 22% and 26% respectively. We conclude that the distribution of lysosomal hydrolases between the two vesicle populations is growth-phase dependent and is markedly heterogeneous in proliferating cells. © 1984.

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