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J Biochem. 1975 Apr;77(4):705-18.

Cytoplasmic membrane vesicles of Escherichia coli. A simple method for preparing the cytoplasmic and outer membranes.


A simple preparative method is described for isolation of the cytoplasmic and outer membranes from E. coli. The characteristics of both membrane fractions were studied chemically, biologically, and morphologically. Spheroplasts of E. coli K-12 strain W3092, prepared by treating cells with EDTA-lysozyme [EC], were disrupted in a French press. The crude membrane fraction was washed with 3 mM EDTA-10% (w/v) sucrose, pH 7.2, and the cytoplasmic membranes and outer membranes were separated by sucrose isopycnic density gradient centrifugation. The crude membrane fraction contained approximately 10% of the protein of the whole cells, 0.3% of the DNA, 0.7% of the RNA, 0.3% of the peptidoglycan, and about 30% of the lipopolysaccharide. The cytoplasmic membrane fraction was rich in phospholipid, while the outer membrane fraction contained much lipopolysaccharide and carbohydrate; the relative contents of lipopolysaccharide and carbohydrate per mg protein in the cytoplasmic membrane fraction were 12 and 40%, respectively, of the contents in the outer membrane fraction. Cytochrome b1, NADH oxidase, D-lactate dehydrogenase [EC], succinate dehydrogenase [EC], ATPase [EC], and activity for concentrative uptake of proline were found to be localized mainly in the cytoplasmic membranes; their specific activities in the outer membrane fraction were 1.5 to 3% of those in the cytoplasmic membrane fraction. In contrast, a phospholipase A appeared to be localized mainly in the outer membranes and its specific activity in the cytoplasmic membrane fraction was only 5% of that in the outer membrane fraction. The cytoplasmic and outer membrane fractions both appeared homogeneous in size and shape and show vesicular structures by electron microscopy. The advantages of this method for large scale preparation of the cytoplasmic and outer membrane fractions are discussed.

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