Two distinct types of surface membrane rearrangement occur during the differentiation of Caenorhabditis elegans spermatids into amoeboid spermatozoa. The first, detected by the behavior of latex beads attached to the surface, is a nondirected, intermittent movement of discrete portions of the membrane. This movement starts when spermatids are stimulated to differentiate and stops when a pseudopod is formed. The second type of movement is a directed, continual flow of membrane components from the tip of the pseudopod to its base. Both membrane glycoproteins and fluorescent phospholipids inserted in the membrane flow backward at the same rate, approximately 4 micrometers/min, although their lateral diffusion coefficients in the membrane differ by at least a factor of 5. These observations suggest that pseudopodial membrane movement is due to bulk flow of membrane components away from the tip of the pseudopod.

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