A phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C from Staphylococcus aureus was purified by a three-step procedure. The specific activity of the purified enzyme was approx. 6000 times that of the culture supernatant, with an overall recovery of approx. 10%. Estimation of the molecular weight by sodium dodecyl sulphate/polyacrylamide-gel electrophoresis and by gel filtration gave values of 33000 and 20000 respectively. A thiol group appears to be necessary for the activity of the enzyme. The purified enzyme had no detectable delta-haemolytic activity and was unable to hydrolyse S. aureus phospholipids. Phosphatidyl-inositol in erythrocyte ‘ghosts’ was readily hydrolysed by the purified phospholipase C. However, in contrast with our previous preliminary observations, phosphatidylinositol in intact erythrocytes was not significantly hydrolysed. These results suggest that at least 75-80% of the phosphatidylinositol is located at the inner leaflet of the membrane.

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