Antibodies were raised against intact gas vesicles of , and against a synthetic peptide (GVPaNT) whose sequence is identical to the N-terminal region of the main gas vesicle protein, GVPa. A two-stage centrifugation procedure is described for separating gold-labelled antibodies bound to gas vesicles from unbound antibodies. The GVPaNT antibody bound to gas vesicles that had been previously rinsed with SDS to remove the outer gas vesicle protein, GVPc. Treatment with this antibody caused the gas vesicles to aggregate together end-to-end rather than side-by-side. The binding of the anti-GVPaNT-immunogold particles to the gas vesicle was restricted to the conical ends of the structure. These observations indicate that the sequence to which the GVPaNT antibodies were raised, residues 1 to 13 of the GVPa molecule, is exposed only at the outer surface of the cones and that it is normally obscured by GVPc. As GVPa forms both the conical ends and the cylindrical midsection of the gas vesicle, exposure of the N-terminal sequence only in the cones must be due to differences in the contact between adjacent GVPa molecules in the central cylinders and end-cones.


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