Membrane fusion in vitro between Golgi apparatus- and plasma-membrane-rich fractions isolated from maize (Zea mays) roots was found to be dependent on Ca2+ and the membrane proteins. Trypsin treatment of mixed membrane fractions before the addition of Ca2+ inhibited their ability to fuse. It resulted also in a selective and progressive elimination of a characteristic intense polypeptide band (B1) on gel electrophoresis. This polypeptide was not removed by chymotrypsin or thermolysin. B1 is an integral membrane protein with an exposed portion to the outside. Sodium deoxycholate was used to solubilize the proteins of mixed membrane fractions. Extracted proteins analysed by non-SDS (sodium dodecyl sulphate) polyacrylamide-gel electrophoresis revealed the presence of four isolated bands. When re-electrophoresed in the presence of SDS, one of these bands exhibited the same mobility as polypeptide B1. Enzymic staining of non-SDS-polyacrylamide gels showed that this protein has Ca2+- and Mg2+-dependent ATPase activity. Its possible role in membrane fusion is discussed.

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