The high affinity receptor for IgE on rat basophilic leukemia (RBL) cells mediates antigen-triggered cellular degranulation. Polyethylene glycol-induced membrane fusion methods were used to introduce exogenous IgE receptors into living RBL cells, and these were tested for normal activities. In cell-cell fusion experiments, RBL cells with fluorescein-labeled rat IgE bound to receptors and containing [5-1,2-3H(N)]hydroxytryptamine binoxalate ([3H]5HT) in their secretory granules were fused to cells with receptors occupied by rhodamine-labeled anti-dinitrophenyl mouse IgE. The fused cells showed a uniform surface distribution of both types of IgE, which could be patched independently by anti-IgE or dinitrophenylated bovine gamma globulin (DNP16BGG). [3H]5HT release could be triggered specifically by DNP16BGG. In vesicle-cell fusion experiments, plasma membrane vesicles, with receptors occupied by fluorescein- and 125I-labeled anti-DNP mouse IgE, were fused to RBL cells containing [3H]5HT. The cells showed substantial associated fluorescein fluorescence and 125I counts, and [3H]5HT release could be triggered specifically by DNP16BGG. These experiments indicate that IgE receptors can be dissociated from their natural cellular interactions and retain the ability to reassociate with another cell's components to deliver the transmembrane signal for degranulation.

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