Topographical distribution of concanavalin A binding sites (CABS) was studied in two lines of virally transformed fibroblasts as a function of fatty acid composition. Fatty acid composition was manipulated by incubating cells in fatty acid, ATP, CoA, and delipidated fetal calf serum (FCS). VLM cells grown in medium containing 5% FCS have a clustered CABS distribution. Plasma membrane vesicles (PMVs) derived from these cells have an arachidonate content of 1.7%. Elevation of PMV arachidonate to 15.8% results in a marked restriction of CABS patching, while elevation to 6.8% is associated with intermediate restriction of patching. Restriction of patching is associated with increased microviscosity. CABS of Rous sarcoma virus-transformed chicken embryo fibroblasts (RSV-CEF) are also responsive to arachidonate enrichment medium. Whereas untreated cells have a clustered CABS distribution, cells incubated for 24 h in arachidonate enrichment medium have predominantly a dispersed CABS distribution. In both VLM cells and RSV-CEF, ATP, CoA, and delipidated FCS alone have no effect upon CABS mobility. Inhibition of CABS patching is also observed when aspirin is included in the arachidonate enrichment medium but not when the cells are incubated in prostaglandins, thus suggesting that the restriction of CABS mobility is not mediated by prostaglandins. Other fatty acids (palmitate, oleate, nonadecanoate) failed to restrict CABS movement. The inhibition of CABS mobility is independent of cell shape change.

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