When human erythroleukemic cells are induced to differentiate, they produce globin and redistribute glycophorin and spectrin to one pole of the cell. This process was accompanied by an alteration in the clathrin-coated pits at the cell surface. In nondifferentiating cells, receptors for Concanavalin A have been shown, using electron microscopy, to be concentrated into coated pits and rapidly internalized. Glycophorin was also internalized via coated pits, but was not greatly concentrated into these portions of the surface membrane. Ligands attached to glycophorin were, therefore, cleared from the cell surface more slowly than Concanavalin A. In nondifferentiating cells, immunoelectron microscopy showed that spectrin is largely excluded from coated pits. After erythroid differentiation proceeded for several days, glycophorin was totally excluded from the coated pits along with spectrin. This did not reflect a general cessation of endocytosis, however, because Concanavalin A receptors continued to be internalized. It is possible that the specific exclusion of glycophorin from coated pits is part of the remodeling process that occurs when the precursor cell membrane differentiates into that of the mature erythrocyte.

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