To investigate the properties of phagolysosome (PL) fusion in Acanthamoeba homogenates, it was necessary to develop reliable methods for measuring in vitro PL fusion. The need to distinguish PL fusion from PL adhesion was met by the development of a quantitative electron microscope assay. Initial characterization of the fusion reaction by this method was followed by the development of a more rapid light microscope assay. Results obtained by the two methods were found to be in close agreement. By use of these new techniques, the in vitro PL fusion reaction was demonstrated to occur in a quantitatively reproducible manner. Under the present conditions employed, PL breakdown was not detected at any time during the in vitro incubation, while PL fusion was observed to proceed linearly for approximately 10 min, at which time the reaction ceased. Incubation of mixtures of two distinct PL types resulted in increases in hybrid PL types that were paralleled by decreases in nonhybrid PL types. The relative changes in PL concentrations observed were quantitatively consistent with PL fusion occurring randomly with respect to PL type. PL fusion was strongly inhibited by low concentrations of KF (50% inhibition at 2.7 mM), and by approximately tenfold higher concentrations of KCl, while KCN and 2,4-dinitrophenol (2,4-DNP) had little effect. In addition to further defining the nature of the PL fusion reaction in this system, these results demonstrate that, by use of the techniques described, quantitative study of the biochemical properties of this reaction is now possible.

This content is only available as a PDF.