The lateral diffusion of an 80,000-dalton major cell surface glycoprotein of murine fibroblasts has been measured. This antigen, identified through the use of monoclonal antibodies, is an integral glycoprotein distributed through the plasma membrane as judged by immunofluorescence and immunoelectron microscopy (see preceding paper). Measurements of fluorescence recovery after photobleaching were performed on the antigen-antibody complex within the plasma membrane of C3H/10T1/2 and NIH/3T3 cells after labeling the monoclonal antibody with fluorescein. Measurements were performed as a function of temperature, for interphase, mitotic, and G0 C3H/10T1/2 cells. The mean lateral diffusion coefficients (D) for the antibody-protein complex in interphase cells were in the range of 0.7-3.5 X 10(-10) cm2/s between 9 degrees and 37 degrees C, while that for the lipid analog probe, dihexadecylindocarbocyanine was about two orders of magnitude greater. This comparison indicates that peripheral interactions other than bilayer fluidity limit the lateral mobility of the antigen. The mobile fraction of mitotic, G0, and interphase cells showed a monotonic increase with temperature with most of the antibody-antigen complexes being free to move about 25 degrees C. Semi-quantitative interpretations of both the slow glycoprotein diffusion and the immobile fraction are offered. Comparison of diffusion coefficients for cells in different phases of the cell cycle does not reveal striking differences. Mobile fractions for G0 cells at 25 degrees C or less are substantially lower than in interphase cells. In all cases, there was a remarkably broad range of the fluorescence recovery data between different cells, resulting in up to a 10-fold variation in diffusion coefficients, which is far greater than the precision limits of the experiment. Diffusion values and mobile fractions were generally well within a factor of two when measured at several arbitrary points on a single cell. The origins of this cellular heterogenity remain to be elucidated. Lateral mobility in cell fragments and specific regions of single cells was also examined. The glycoprotein was mobile in ventral surface cell fragments. Its mobility was not altered in regions of cell-cell underlapping. However, the diffusion coefficient was threefold higher near the leading edge of motile cells compared to the trailing region. This difference may reflect weaker coupling of the glycoprotein to the underlying cytoskeleton in the dynamic leading edge region.

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