The binding of the chemotactic peptide N-formylnorleucylleucylphenylalanine (FNLLP) to its receptor on rabbit polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs) modulates the number of available peptide receptors. Incubation with FNLLP decreases subsequent binding capacity, a phenomenon that has been termed receptor down regulation. Down regulation of the chemotactic peptide receptor is concentration dependent in both the rate and extent of receptor loss. The dose response parallels that of FNLLP binding to the recptor. The time-course is rapid; even at concentrations of FNLLP as low as 3 x 10(-9) M, the new equilibrium concentration of receptors is reached within 15 min. Down regulation is temperature dependent, but does occur even at 4 degrees C. Concomitant with down regulation, some of the peptide becomes irreversibly cell associated. At 4 degrees C, there is a small accumulation of nondissociable peptide that rapidly reaches a plateau. At higher temperatures, accumulation of nondissociable peptide continues after the rceptor number has reached equilibrium, and the amount accumulated can exceed the initial number of receptors by as much as 300%. The dose response of peptide uptake at 37 degrees C reflects that of binding, suggesting that it is receptor mediated. This uptake may occur via a pinocytosis mechanism. Although PMNs have not been considered to be pinocytic, the addition of FNLLP causes a fourfold stimulation of the rate of pinocytosis as measured by the uptake of [3H]sucrose.

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