In order to localize amyloid protein precursor (APP) in nerve terminals, we have immunoisolated vesicular organelles from nerve terminal preparations using antibodies to Rab5 and synaptophysin. These immunoisolates were then analyzed by electron microscopy and by immunoblotting. The synaptophysin immunoisolates represented a nearly homogeneous population of small synaptic vesicles, with less than 10% contamination by other organelles, and very little APP. In contrast, Rab5 immunoisolates contained, in addition to small synaptic vesicles, substantial numbers of large uni- and bilamellar vesicles and high levels of APP. Thus, it appears that nerve terminal APP is contained predominantly in large vesicular organelles, distinct from synaptic vesicles and from the synaptic vesicle recycling pathway.
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