The capacity of Acanthamoeba to distinguish nutritive yeast particles from non-nutritive plastic beads during phagocytosis was investigated. When cells were allowed to phagocytose yeast to capacity, endocytosis stopped and subsequent presentation of particles (either yeast or beads) did not result in further uptake. By contrast, when cells were allowed to phagocytose plastic beads to capacity and a second dose of particles was presented (either yeast or beads), the cells exocytosed the internal particles and took up new ones. Yeast rendered indigestible by extensive chemical cross-linking were taken up at rates similar to those of untreated yeast, but, like beads, they were exocytosed when a second dose of particles was presented. The results show that an internal distinction is made between vacuoles containing yeast and vacuoles containing plastic beads, and they are consistent with the hypothesis that the presence within the vacuoles of material capable of being digested prevents exocytosis.

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