Receptor-mediated binding of leukocyte chemotactic peptide, N-formylMet-Leu-Phe (fMLP), occurs in the ciliated protozoon Tetrahymena thermophila. In vivo labelling of the cells with N-formylMet-Leu-[3H]Phe ([3H]fMLP) shows that the cells bind the ligand with high affinity (KD = 4 × 10(−9) M to 1 × 10(−8) M). Moreover, Scatchard transformations of the binding data show that there are about 5 × 10(5) binding sites per cell on the cell surface. Two fluorescent derivatives of leukocyte chemotactic peptide, N-dansylMet-Leu-Phe (dansMLP) and N-formylMet-Leu-Phe-(N-dansyl-)Lys (fMLPdanLys) compete for the N-formylMet-Leu-Phe (fMLP) binding sites on the cell surface. Moreover, both derivatives have retained significant chemoattracting potentials. Fluorescence from dansMLP, but not from fMLPdansLys and dansyl-beta-endorphin, is internalized preferentially into small vesicles. The differences may, however, reflect that the fluorescence from the dansyl group is strongly quenched by a hydrophilic microenvironment when using the two latter peptide derivatives. In contrast, the dansyl group from dansMLP must be assumed to be embedded in a hydrophobic microenvironment in the vesicular membrane or membrane protein. Rhodamine-labelled bovine serum albumin, egg albumin and cytochrome c as well as dansylated bovine serum albumin, which are poor chemoattractants, are preferentially seen to be internalized into large vesicles (food vacuoles).

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