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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1978 Oct;75(10):5025-9.

Epidermal growth factor: morphological demonstration of binding, internalization, and lysosomal association in human fibroblasts.


Using a quantitative electron microscopic autoradiographic technique, we have localized the initial binding step of 125I-labeled epidermal growth factor (125I-EGF) to the plasma membrane of the human fibroblast. After initial binding, labeled EGF is internalized progressively by the cell in a time- and temperature-dependent fashion; when cell-associated radioactivity comes to steady state, approximately 1/3 of the autoradiographic grains are related to the plasma membrane and approximately 2/3 have been internalized. Under these conditions the internalized grains are almost exclusively related to lysosomal structures. When 125I-EGF associates with the cells for 2 hr at 4 degrees or 2 min at 37 degrees, 34% of grains localize to coated regions of the membrane. These coated regions make up less than 2% of the membrane surface. These data directly confirm kinetic studies and suggest that saturable binding of EGF is followed by adsorptive pinocytosis and cellular degradation of the ligand and possibly its cell surface receptor.

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