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Eur J Cell Biol. 2000 Dec;79(12):871-82.

Ultrastructural characterization of the delimiting membranes of isolated autophagosomes and amphisomes by freeze-fracture electron microscopy.

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Department of Cell Biology, Institute for Cancer Research, The Norwegian Radium Hospital, Montebello, Oslo.


The delimiting membranes of isolated autophagosomes from rat liver had extremely few transmembrane proteins, as indicated by the paucity of intramembrane particles in freeze-fracture images (about 20 particles/microm2, whereas isolated lysosomes had about 2000 particles/microm2). The autophagosomes also appeared to lack peripheral surface membrane proteins, since attempts to surface-biotinylate intact autophagosomes only yielded biotinylation of proteins from contaminating damaged mitochondria. All the membrane layers of multilamellar autophagosomes were equally particle-poor; the same was true of the autophagosome-forming, sequestering membrane complexes (phagophores). Isolated amphisomes (vacuoles formed by fusion between autophagosomes and endosomes) had more intramembrane particles than the autophagosomes (about 90 particles/microm2), and freeze-fracture images of these organelles frequently showed particle-rich endosomes fusing with particle-poor or particle-free autophagosomes. The appearence of multiple particle clusters suggested that a single autophagic vacuole could undergo multiple fusions with endosomes. Only the outermost membrane of bi- or multilamellar autophagic vacuoles appeared to engage in such fusions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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