The introduction of a new antigenic determinant, 2,4-dinitrophenyl-aminocaproyl-phosphatidylethanolamine (DNP-Cap-PE), into the surface membranes of intact human erythrocytes is described. Fresh cells were incubated in the presence of liposomes composed of 10% DNP-Cap-PE, 5% stearylamine, 20% lysolecithin, and 65% lecithin. Such liposome-treated erythrocytes are shown to be susceptible to immune lysis by anti-DNP serum in the presence of complement. Uptake of DNP-Cap-PE by erythrocyte membranes is also demonstrated by immunofluorescence using indirect staining with rabbit anti-DNP serum followed by fluroescein-conjugated goat anti-rabbit IgG and by electron microscopy using ferritin-conjugated antibody. Antigen uptake did not occur at low temperatures or from vesicles lacking lysolecithin and stearylamine. Fluorescence microscopy shows that the antigen-antibody complexes are free to diffuse over the cell surface, eventually coalescing into a single area on the cell membrane. Electron microscopy suggests that a substantial proportion of the lipid antigen is incorporated by fusion of vesicles with the cell membrane. There are indications that vesicle treatment causes a small proportion of cells to invaginate.

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