The degradative fate of monoamine oxidase in endogenous and transplanted mitochondrial outer membrane has been compared in rat hepatocyte monolayers. Monoamine oxidase was specifically irreversibly radiolabelled by the suicide inhibitor [3H]pargyline. Hepatocyte monolayers were cultured in conditions in which rates of protein catabolism like those in vivo are maintained [Evans & Mayer (1983) Biochem. J. 216, 151-161]. Incubation of hepatocyte monolayers for 17 h with [3H]pargyline specifically radiolabels mitochondrial monoamine oxidase, as shown by Percoll-gradient fractionation of broken hepatocytes. Monoamine oxidase is degraded at a similar rate to that observed in liver in vivo (t1/2 approx. 63 h). The effects of leupeptin, methylamine and colchicine on the degradation of endogenous radiolabelled enzyme has been studied over prolonged culture periods. Culture of hepatocytes for periods of up to 80 h with inhibitors was not cytotoxic, as demonstrated by measurements of several intrinsic biochemical parameters. Leupeptin, methylamine and colchicine inhibit the degradation of endogenous monoamine oxidase by 60, 38 and 18% respectively. Monoamine oxidase in mitochondrial-outer-membrane vesicles introduced into hepatocytes by poly(ethylene glycol)-mediated vesicle-cell transplantation is degraded at a similar rate (t1/2 55 h) to the endogenous mitochondrial enzyme. Whereas leupeptin inhibits the degradation of endogenous and transplanted enzyme to a similar extent, methylamine and colchicine inhibit the degradation of transplanted enzyme to a much greater extent (85 and 56% respectively). Fluorescence microscopy (with fluorescein isothiocyanate-conjugated mitochondrial outer membrane) shows that transplanted mitochondrial outer membrane undergoes internalization and translocation to a sided perinuclear site, as observed previously with whole mitochondria [Evans & Mayer (1983) Biochem. J. 216, 151-161]. The effects of the inhibitors on the distribution of transplanted membrane material in the cell and inhibition of proteolysis show the importance of cytomorphology for intracellular protein catabolism.

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