Receptors for bacterial N-formyl peptides are instrumental for neutrophil chemotactic locomotion and activation at sites of infection. As regulatory mechanisms for signal transduction, both rapid coupling of the occupied receptor to cytoskeletal components, and receptor lateral redistribution, have been suggested (Jesaitis et al., 1986, 1989). To compare the distribution and lateral diffusion of the nonactivated and activated neutrophil N-formyl-peptide receptor, before internalization, we used a new fluorescent N-formyl-peptide receptor antagonist, tertbutyloxycarbonyl-Phe(D)-Leu-Phe(D)-Leu-Phe-OH (Boc-FLFLF, 0.1-1 microM), and the fluorescent receptor agonist formyl-Nle-Leu-Phe-Nle-Tyr-Lys (fnLLFnLYK, 0.1-1 microM). Fluorescent Boc-FLFLF did not elicit an oxidative burst in the neutrophil at 37 degrees C, as assessed by chemiluminescence and reduction of p-nitroblue tetrazolium chloride, but competed efficiently both with formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine (fMLF) and fnLLFnLYK. It was not internalized, as evidenced by confocal microscopy and acid elution of surface bound ligand. The lateral mobility characteristics of the neutrophil fMLF receptor were investigated with the technique of FRAP. The diffusion coefficient (D) was similar for antagonist- and agonist-labeled receptors (D approximately 5 x 10(-10) cm2/s), but the fraction of mobile receptors was significantly lower in agonist- compared to antagonist-labeled cells, approximately 40% in contrast to approximately 60%. This reduction in receptor mobile fraction was slightly counteracted, albeit not significantly, by dihydrocytochalasin B (dhcB, 5 microM). To block internalization of agonist-labeled receptors, receptor mobility measurements were done at 14 degrees C. At this temperature, confocal microscopy revealed clustering of receptors in response to agonist binding, compared to a more uniform receptor distribution in antagonist-labeled cells. The pattern of agonist-induced receptor clustering was less apparent after dhcB treatment. To summarize, this work shows that activated N-formyl peptide receptors aggregate and immobilize in the plane of the neutrophil plasma membrane before internalization, a process that is affected, but not significantly reversed, by cytochalasin. The results are consistent with a model where arrested receptors are associated mainly with a cytochalasin-insensitive pool of cytoskeletal elements.

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