The concentrations of Zn2+, Ca2+, Mg2+, Pi and adenine nucleotides were determined in insulin-secretory granules prepared from a transplantable rat insulinoma. Differential and density-gradient centrifugation analyses revealed that Zn2+ in this tissue was principally localized in the secretory granule, a second major fraction being found in association with cytosolic proteins. Pi was principally recovered in the latter fraction, whereas Ca2+ and Mg2+ were more widely distributed. Intragranular ion-distribution experiments suggested that Zn2+ was complexed mainly to insulin and its precursor forms and remained in the granule in an insoluble state. The Zn2+/insulin ratio (0.54) was greater than that expected for insulin molecules having two centrally co-ordinated Zn2+ atoms/hexamer, but less than the maximal Zn2+-binding capacity of the molecule. Most of the granular Ca2+, Mg2+ and Pi was released in a soluble form when granules were disrupted by sonication. Simulation in vitro of the ionic composition of the granule suggested that up to 90% of its Ca2+ was complexed to Pi and adenine nucleotides. Granular macromolecules also bound Ca2+, as shown by equilibrium-dialysis studies of granule lysates. However, such binding was displaced by Mg2+. Examination of the efflux of Ca2+ from granules incubated in iso-osmotic suspensions at 37 degrees C suggested that the passive permeability of the granule membrane to Ca2+ was very low. Nevertheless, more than 50% of the granular Ca2+ was rapidly released in an ionized form on hypo-osmotic or detergent-induced disruption of the granule membrane. This may represent a potentially mobilizable pool of Ca2+ in vivo.

This content is only available as a PDF.