The distribution of free thiol groups associated with the membrane proteins of the purified pig gastric microsomal vesicles was quantified, and the relation of thiol groups to the function of the gastric (H+ + K+)-transporting ATPase system was investigated. Two different thiol-specific agents, carboxypyridine disulphide (CPDS) and N-(1-naphthyl)maleimide (NNM) were used for the study. The structure-function relationship of the membrane thiol groups was studied after modification by the probes under various conditions, relating the inhibition of the (H+ + K+)-transporting ATPase to the ATP-dependent H+ accumulation by the gastric microsomal vesicles. On the basis of the extent of stimulation of the microsomal (H+ + K+)-transporting ATPase in the presence and absence of valinomycin (val) about 85% of the vesicles were found to be intact. CPDS at 1 mM completely inhibits the valinomycin-stimulated ATPase and the associated p-nitrophenyl phosphatase with a concomitant inhibition of vesicular H+ uptake. Both the enzyme and dye-uptake activities were fully protected against CPDS inhibition when the treatment with CPDS was carried out in the presence of ATP. ATP also offered protection (about 65%) against NNM inhibition of the (H+ + K+)-transporting ATPase system and vesicular H+ uptake. Under similar conditions ATP also protected about 10 and 6 nmol of thiol groups/mg of protein respectively from CPDS and NNM reaction. Our data suggest that the thiol groups on the outer surface of the vesicles are primarily involved in gastric (H+ + K+)-transporting ATPase function. Furthermore, at least about 15% of the total microsomal thiol groups appear to be associated with the ATPase system. The data have been discussed in terms of the structure-function relationship of gastric microsomes.

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