The modulation or loss of thymus-leukemia (TL) antigenicity from the surfaces of mouse RADA1 leukemia cells and normal thymocytes during incubation with TL antibody in vitro at 37°C was investigated by cytotoxicity, immunofluorescence, and immunoelectron microscopy. The fate of bivalent and monovalent antibody during modulation was visualized by fluorescence microscopy. Considerable antibody remained bound to the cell surface after modulation, bivalent antibody being displaced topographically into "patches" and "caps" while monovalent antibody was only slightly aggregated on the cell surface. Some antibody was internalized, presumably by pinocytosis, and was sequestered into the Golgi region of the cell. Capping usually occurred over the pole of the cell opposite from the Golgi region, which may explain the lack of extensive pinocytosis of modulating bivalent antibody. Since modulation with monovalent antibody occurs without patch or cap formation, gross topographical redistribution of TL antigen-antibody complexes is not required for modulation, although more subtle displacement of these complexes may be involved.
Modulation was demonstrable by cytotoxicity with guinea pig C' but not with absorbed rabbit C', indicating that modulated TL antigens remain bound to the cell surface. A heat-labile factor in TL antiserum and in mouse serum in general is responsible for "blocking" the cytolytic interaction of guinea pig C' with modulated TL antigen-antibody complexes.