Recirculating lymphocytes initiate extravasation from the blood stream by binding to specialized high endothelial venules (HEV) within peripheral lymph nodes (PN) and other secondary lymphoid organs. We have previously reported that lymphocyte attachment to PN HEV is selectively inhibited by mannose-6-phosphate (M6P) and related carbohydrates (Stoolman, L. M., T. S. Tenforde, and S. D. Rosen, 1984, J. Cell Biol., 99:1535-1540). In the present study, we employ a novel cell-surface probe consisting of fluorescent beads derivatized with PPME, a M6P-rich polysaccharide. PPME beads directly identify a carbohydrate-binding receptor on the surface of mouse lymphocytes. In every way examined, lymphocyte attachment to PPME beads (measured by flow cytofluorometry) mimics the interaction of lymphocytes with PN HEV (measured in the Stamper-Woodruff in vitro assay): both interactions are selectively inhibited by the same panel of structurally related carbohydrates, are calcium-dependent, and are sensitive to mild treatment of the lymphocytes with trypsin. In addition, thymocytes and a thymic lymphoma, S49, bind poorly to PPME beads in correspondence to their weak ability to bind to HEV. When the S49 cell line was subjected to a selection procedure with PPME beads, the ability of the cells to bind PPME beads, as well as their ability to bind to PN HEV, increased six- to eightfold. We conclude that a carbohydrate-binding receptor on mouse lymphocytes, detected by PPME beads, is involved in lymphocyte attachment to PN HEV.

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