Normal rat and mouse lymphoid cells were incubated at 0°–4°C for 1 h with purified rabbit or sheep antirat (mouse) immunoglobulin (Ig)-horseradish peroxidase (PO) conjugates or with Fab fragments of antibody coupled with peroxidase. Cells were subsequently washed and incubated in fresh medium, without labeled antibody or Fab fragments for 5–30 min at 20° or 37°C. With the use of the diaminobenzidine (DAB) method, distribution of peroxidase was studied in the light and electron microscopes. Fab fragments of antirat Ig antibody were iodinated with 125I and subsequently coupled with horseradish PO. Plasma membrane and internalized immunoglobulins were detected by electron microscope autoradiography and peroxidase cytochemistry. Single- (Fab-PO), and double- ([125I]Fab-PO) labeled lymphoid cells showed identical patterns of surface or internal distribution of immunoglobulins.

In the electron microscope, Fab-PO conjugates at 0°–4°C resulted in a diffuse specific staining of the plasmalemma of lymphocytes and plasma cells. Most of the small dark lymphocytes (T cells?) did not show plasma membrane Ig. Macrophages did not show plasmalemma staining, but displayed nonspecific cytoplasmic staining after incubation at 20° or 37°C with antibody or Fab-PO conjugates. Lymphocytes and plasma cells, after incubation with antibody-PO conjugates at 0°–4°C, had patchy deposits of oxidized DAB on their plasma membranes. Macrophages, similarly treated, had no plasmalemmal staining.

Patch and cap formation on the plasma membrane of lymphocytes and plasma cells was seen regularly after antibody-PO incubation at 37°C.

Internalization patterns were different in lymphocytes and plasma cells. In lymphocytes, peroxidase staining was observed in small round or oval vesicles clustered at one pole of the cell (30 min at 37°C). In plasma cells, peroxidase staining was seen in clusters of tubules resembling the Golgi apparatus. Internalization of plasma membrane IgG was less pronounced after antibody-PO labeling as compared to Fab-PO labeling.

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