Rat cerebellum microsomes were subfractionated on isopycnic linear sucrose (20-42%)-density gradients. The distribution of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) markers (RNA, signal-sequence receptor alpha, calnexin, calreticulin, the immunoglobulin-binding protein Bip) and markers of intracellular rapidly exchanging Ca2+ stores [Ca2+ channels sensitive to either Ins(1,4,5)P3 or ryanodine) was investigated biochemically and immunologically. The comparison indicates that: (a) vesicles bearing the InsP3 receptor were separated from those bearing the ryanodine receptor; (b) ER markers, i.e. Bip, calnexin, signal-sequence receptor alpha, RNA, did not sediment as either InsP3 or ryanodine receptors did; (c) calreticulin, an intralumenal low-affinity high-capacity Ca(2+)-binding protein, had a widespread distribution, similar to that of Bip and calnexin, and was present in Purkinje, granule, Golgi and stellate neurons, as indicated by immunofluorescent labelling of cerebellum cortex cryosections. The present results show that the ER is not a homogeneous entity, and that Ca2+ stores are heterogeneous insofar as InsP3 receptors and ryanodine receptors are segregated, either to discrete intracellular organelles or to specialized ER subcompartments.

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