Thin-section electron microscope analysis of rat and rabbit-cultured granulosa cells treated with concanavalin A (Con A) at 37 degrees C revealed coordinated changes in the cytoplasmic disposition of microfilaments, thick filaments, and microtubules during cap formation and internalization of lectin-receptor complexes. Con A-receptor clustering is accompanied by an accumulation of subplasmalemmal microfilaments which assemble into a loosely woven ring as patches of receptor move centrally on the cell surface. Periodic densities appear in the microfilament ring which becomes reduced in diameter as patches coalesce to form a single central cap. Microtubules and thick filaments emerge associated with the capped membrane. Capping is followed by endocytosis of the con A-receptor complexes. During this process, the microfilament ring is displaced basally into the cytoplasm and endocytic vesicles are transported to the paranuclear Golgi complex along microtubules and thick filaments. Eventually, these vesicles aggregate near the cell center where they are embedded in a dense meshwork of thick filaments. Freeze-fracture analysis of Con A-capped granulosa cells revealed no alteration in the arrangement of peripheral intramembrane particles but large, smooth domains were conspicuous in the capped region of the plasma membrane. The data are discussed with reference to the participation of microtubules and microfilaments in the capping process.

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