Rabbit alveolar macrophages which were treated at 0 degrees C with phenylarsine oxide and then incubated at 37 degrees C for 10 min exhibited a two- to threefold increase in surface receptor activity for macroglobulin.protease complexes, diferric transferrin, and mannose-terminal glycoproteins. Analysis of the concentration-dependence of ligand binding indicated that changes in ligand-binding activity were due to changes in receptor number rather than alterations in ligand-receptor affinity. Surface receptor number could also be increased by treatment of cells with three other sulfhydryl reagents, N-ethylmaleimide, p-chloromercurobenzoate, and iodoacetic acid. The increase in receptor activity was maximal after 10 min and decreased over the next hour. This decrease in cell-associated receptor activity was due to the release of large membrane vesicles which demonstrated a uniform buoyant density by isopycnic sucrose gradient centrifugation. Treatment of cells with phenylarsine oxide did not decrease the cellular content of lactate dehydrogenase or beta-galactosidase, indicating that cell integrity was maintained and lysosomal enzyme release did not occur. Our studies indicate that phenylarsine oxide treatment in the presence of extracellular Ca2+ results in the fusion of receptor-containing vesicles with the cell surface.

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