Fluorescent derivatives of gangliosides were prepared by oxidizing the sialyl residues to aldehydes and reacting them with fluorescent hydrazides. When rhodaminyl gangliosides were incubated with lymphocytes, the cells incorporated them in a time- and temperature-dependent manner. Initially, the gangliosides were evenly distributed on the cell surface but were redistributed into patches and caps by antirhodamine antibodies. When the cells were then stained with a second antibody or protein A labeled with fluorescein, the fluorescein stain revealed the coincident movement of both the gangliosides and the antirhodamine antibodies. When the cells were treated with both rhodamine and Lucifer yellow CH-labeled gangliosides, the antirhodamine antibodies induced patching and capping of both fluorescent gangliosides but had no effect on cells incubated only with Lucifer yellow CH-labeled gangliosides. In addition, capping was observed on cells exposed to cholera toxin, antitoxin antibodies, and rhodamine-labeled protein A, indirectly showing the redistribution of endogenous ganglioside GM1, the cholera toxin receptor. By incorporating Lucifer yellow CH-labeled GM1 into the cells and inducing capping as above, we were able to demonstrate directly the coordinate redistribution of the fluorescent GM1 and the toxin. When the lymphocytes were stained first with Lucifer yellow CH-labeled exogenous ganglioside GM3, which is not a toxin receptor, there was co-capping of endogenous GM1 (rhodamine) and exogenous GM3 (Lucifer yellow CH). These results suggest that gangliosides may self-associate in the plasma membrane which may explain the basis for ganglioside redistribution and capping.

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