Two carbohydrate-binding probes, the lectin concanavalin A and an anti-carbohydrate monoclonal antibody designated FMG-1, have been used to study the distribution of their respective epitopes on the surface of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, strain pf-18. Both of these ligands bind uniformly to the external surface of the flagellar membrane and the general cell body plasma membrane, although the labeling is more intense on the flagellar membrane. In addition, both ligands cross-react with cell wall glycoproteins. With respect to the flagellar membrane, both concanavalin A and the FMG-1 monoclonal antibody bind preferentially to the principal high molecular weight glycoproteins migrating with an apparent molecular weight of 350,000 although there is, in addition, cross-reactivity with a number of minor glycoproteins. Western blots of V-8 protease digests of the high molecular weight flagellar glycoproteins indicate that the epitopes recognized by the lectin and the antibody are both repeated multiple times within the glycoproteins and occur together, although the lectin and the antibody do not compete for the same binding sites. Incubation of live cells with the monoclonal antibody or lectin at 4 degrees C results in a uniform labeling of the flagellar surface; upon warming of the cells, these ligands are redistributed along the flagellar surface in a characteristic manner. All of the flagellar surface-bound antibody or lectin collects into a single aggregate at the tip of each flagellum; this aggregate subsequently migrates to the base of the flagellum, where it is shed into the medium. The rate of redistribution is temperature dependent and the glycoproteins recognized by these ligands co-redistribute with the lectin or monoclonal antibody. This dynamic flagellar surface phenomenon bears a striking resemblance to the capping phenomenon that has been described in numerous mammalian cell types. However, it occurs on a structure (the flagellum) that lacks most of the cytoskeletal components generally associated with capping in other systems. The FMG-1 monoclonal antibody inhibits flagellar surface motility visualized as the rapid, bidirectional translocation of polystyrene microspheres.

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