We obtained high-resolution topographical information about the distribution of clathrin and cytoskeletal filaments on cytoplasmic membrane surfaces of macrophages spreading onto glass coverslips by both critical-point drying of broken-open cells and preparation of rotary platinum replicas. Irregular patches of the adherent ventral surface of the plasma membrane were exposed in these cells, and large areas of these exposed membranes were covered with clathrin-coated patches, pits, and vesicles. Various amounts of cytoskeleton were attached to the plasma membranes of these spreading cells, either as distinct starlike foci, or as individual filaments and bundles radiating out from the cytoskeletal meshwork. In newly adherent cells a well developed Golgi-GERL complex, characterized by smooth, dish-like cisternae associated with rough endoplasmic reticulum, was observed. There were many coated vesicles budding off from the Golgi cisternae, and these were predominantly of the large type (150 nm) usually associated with the plasma membrane. In critical-point-dried samples, both cytoskeleton and membranes were preserved in detail comparable to that of quick-frozen samples, after appropriate fixation. Rotary replication of critical-point-dried cells provides a rapid, easily controlled, and generally easy to perform method for obtaining samples of exposed membrane large enough to permit quantification of membrane-associated clathrin and cytoskeleton under various experimental conditions.

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