Cell surface receptor IgM molecules of cultured human lymlphoblastoid cells (WiL2) patch and redistribute into a cap over the Golgi region of the cell after treatment with multivalent anti-IgM antibodies. During and after the redistribution, ligand-receptor clusters are endocytosed into coated pits and coated vesicles. Morphometric analysis of the distribution of ferritin-labeled ligand at EM resolution reveals the following sequence of events in the endocytosis of cell surface IgM: (a) binding of the multivalent ligand in a diffuse cell surface distribution, (b) clustering of the ligand-receptor complexes, (c) recruitment of clathrin coats to the cytoplasmic surface of the cell membrane opposite ligand-receptor clusters, (d) assembly and (e) internalization of coated vesicles, and (f) delivery of label into a large vesicular compartment, presumably partly lysosomal. Most of the labeled ligand enters this pathway. The recruitment of clathrin coats to the membrane opposite ligand-receptor clusters is sensitive to the calmodulin-directed drug Stelazine (trifluoperazine dihydrochloride). In addition, Stelazine inhibits an alternate pathway of endocytosis that does not involve coated vesicle formation. The actin-directed drug dihydrocytochalasin B has no effect on the recruitment of clathrin to the ligand-receptor clusters and the formation of coated pits and little effect on the alternate pathway, but this drug does interfere with subsequent coated vesicle formation and it inhibits capping. Cortical microfilaments that decorate with heavy meromyosin with constant polarity are observed in association with the coated regions of the plasma membrane and with coated vesicles. SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis analysis of a coated vesicle preparation isolated from WiL2 cells demonstrates that the major polypeptides in the fraction are a 175-kdalton component that comigrates with calf brain clathrin, a 42-kdalton component that comigrates with rabbit muscle actin and a 18.5-kdalton minor component that comigrates with calmodulin as well as 110-, 70-, 55-, 36-, 30-, and 17-kdalton components. These results clarify the pathways of endocytosis in this cell and suggest functional roles for calmodulin, especially in the formation of clathrin-coated pits, and for actin microfilaments in coated vesicle formation and in capping.

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