Interpeptide cross-linking of alpha-subunits with concomitant loss of Na+ + K+-transporting ATPase (Na+, K+-ATPase) activity was found when the purified lamb kidney enzyme was treated with the bifunctional thiol reagent 4,4′-difluoro-3,3′-dinitrodiphenyl sulphone (F2DNS). Several forms of the enzyme could be clearly distinguished: one binding ATP (non-phosphorylated enzyme, E1 X ATP), a phosphorylated form (E2-P) and a phosphoenzyme-ouabain complex (E2P X ouabain). A polypeptide of approx. Mr 240 000 and probable alpha 2 composition comprised up to 5-20% of the total polypeptides after reaction of the lamb kidney Na+, K+-ATPase with F2DNS. The amount of this polypeptide formed was related to the conformational state of the enzyme. The presence of adenine nucleotide greatly diminished the amount of 240 000-Mr polypeptide formed and provides evidence for an enzyme-adenine-nucleotide complex under conditions where the enzyme is not phosphorylated. F2DNS reacted with the enzyme in the presence of Mg2+, Pi and ouabain to form a new polypeptide with an approx. Mr of 116 000, and comprised 23% of the total, whereas the 240 000-Mr polypeptide comprised 9% of the total. This suggests that the 116 000-Mr polypeptide is a characteristic marker of the E2P X ouabain complex. By using specific antibodies it was established that both the 240 000- and 116 000-Mr polypeptides contained alpha-, but not beta-, subunits of the Na+, K+-ATPase.

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