The cell-to-cell binding induced by concanavalin A (Con A) and the lectins from wheatgerm, soybean, and waxbean has been analyzed by measuring the ability of single cells to bind to lectin-coated cells immobilized on nylon fibers. The cells used were lymphoma, myeloid leukemia, and normal fibroblast cells. With all lectins, cell-to-cell binding was inhibited if both cells were prefixed with glutaraldehyde. However, in most cases cell-to-cell binding was enhanced when only the lectin-coated cell was prefixed. With normal fibroblasts, treatment of either one or both cells with trypsin enhanced the cell-to-cell binding induced by Con A and the wheatgerm lectin. Neuraminidase, which increases the number of receptors for soybean agglutinin, increased cell-to-cell binding only if both cells were treated. Although cell-to-cell binding induced by the lectins from soybean and wheatgerm could be partially reversed by the appropriate competitive saccharide inhibitor, binding induced by Con A could not be reversed. The experiments indicate that cell-to-cell binding induced by a lectin can be prevented by an insufficient density of receptors for the lectin, insufficient receptor mobility, or induced clustering of receptors. These effects can explain the differences in cell-to-cell binding and agglutination observed with different cell types and lectins. They also suggest that cell-to-cell binding induced by different lectins with a variety of cell types is initiated by a mechanism involving the alignment of complementary receptors on the colliding cells for the formation of multiple cell-to-lectin-to-cell bridges.

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