Cellular uptake of ferritin amounting to 0–5 mug/mg cell protein or more can be measured colorimetrically on the basis of ferritin-iron content. 131I-serum albumin, soluble ferritin and aggregated ferritin used in equimolar concentrations are taken up differently by Sarcoma SI80 cells in culture. The net uptakes in 2 h at 37 degrees C are 0–065, 4-3 and 24-7 mug/mg cell protein or 0-93, 8-0 and 45-7 mumol, respectively. Albumin uptake is not inhibited by a 26-fold molar ferritin excess but is significantly inhibited by a 43-fold excess. The transport mechanism of the ferritins differs from that of albumin in that it is significantly inhibitable by 2 times 10(−4) M monoiodoacetate. Soluble ferritin contains small aggregates which are removed by filtration through Millipore membranes of 0-05, 0-1 and 0-22 mum. When the 0-1-mum filtrate is re-examined, uptake is no longer inhibited by iodoacetate. Since it can be inferred from other work that albumin is taken up by pinocytosis and ferritin aggregates by phagocytosis, the difference in susceptibility to inhibition is proposed as a way to distinguish pinocytosis from phagocytosis. Ferritin may form larger visible aggregates in culture medium. The transport mechanism of this aggregated ferritin differs from that of soluble unfiltered ferritin in that it causes concomitant enhancement of albumin uptake. Albumin transported by virtue of this effect becomes partially susceptible to iodoacetate. Thus, in addition to a distinction between pinocytosis and phagocytosis, our data single out 2 forms of albumin transport and 3 forms of ferritin transport.

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