Concanavalin A (Con A) was taken up to a limited extent by endocytosis in rabbit reticulocytes but not in rabbit erythrocytes. This process was observed by the use of ferritin-labeled Con A and transmission electron microscopy of thin sections of plastic-embedded cells. Furthermore, the extent of endocytosis among the reticulocytes decreased with the extent of their maturation, reticulocyte age being measured by ribosome configurations. These results are consistent with the proposal that there are domains in the membranes of reticulocytes in which the Con A receptors are laterally mobile, and can be clustered and endocytosed. These mobile domains exist, or are formed, within a larger framework of immobile membrane. During reticulocyte maturation, these domains are gradually eliminated, eventually disappearing upon formation of the mature erythrocyte. Possible molecular mechanisms for this proposed elimination process are discussed.

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