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Cell Regul. 1991 Jan;2(1):41-55.

Internalization pathway of C3b receptors in human neutrophils and its transmodulation by chemoattractant receptors stimulation.

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Institute of Histology and Embryology, University of Geneva Medical Center, Switzerland.


On the surface of phagocytes, C3b receptors (CR1) bind C3b-coated particles and promote their ingestion after activation by appropriate stimuli such as lymphokines or the chemoattractant formyl methionyl leucyl phenylalanine (fMLP) and fibronectin. The aims of the present study were 1) to define at the electron microscopic level the nature of the process responsible for CR1 internalization and 2) to dissect the mechanism by which a physiological activator (fMLP) stimulates this process. CR1 was visualized either by the immunogold technique or by quantitative electron microscopic autoradiography using a monoclonal anti-CR1 antibody. Both techniques revealed that after anti-CR1 binding, CR1 cluster on the neutrophil surface in a time-, temperature-, and antibody-dependent fashion, but do not concentrate in coated pits. CR1 internalization requires receptor cross-linking (does not occur in the presence of Fab fragments of anti-CR1) and intact microfilaments. It results in the association of the internalized material with large flattened vacuoles, organized in stacks. Together with the surface localization of CR1 close to cytoplasmic projections (ruffles), these observations suggest that uptake of CR1 occurs through a macropinocytotic process. Eventually, CR1 concentrate in lysosomal structures. fMLP markedly stimulates this pattern of CR1 internalization without affecting their clustering or their lack of association with coated pits. Stimulation by fMLP is inhibited by pertussis toxin, unaffected by preventing receptor-triggered cytosolic free calcium [Ca2+]i elevations, and mimicked by phorbol myristate acetate. Taken together our data demonstrate 1) that, in neutrophils, CR1 is internalized via a coated pit independent macropinocytotic process, dependent on intact microfilaments and receptor cross-linking; 2) that, in the same cells, fMLP is internalized via the classical coated pits pathway; and 3) that fMLP amplifies CR1 uptake possibly via protein kinase C stimulation.

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