The mobility of plant lectin receptors in the plane of the membrane is examined for cells prepared from embryonic chick neural retinas by a variety of procedures. Cells liberated from the intact tissue by trypsin treatment followed by mechanical dissociation are able to redistribute their receptors into ‘caps’ both spontaneously and in the presence of a multivalent lectin. These cells, dispersed by trypsinization, upon repair in culture for a suitable period of time lose their ability to redistribute lectin receptors. Cells dispersed by mechanical means without prior trypsin treatment are unable to undergo ‘cap’ formation. In addition, cells within intact tissues are also unable to redistribute their lectin receptors into ‘caps.’ Based on these observations we propose that within solid tissues which have assumed their characteristic architecture, cell surfaces are immobilized, and that this phenomenon may be a critical parameter in determining the potential of a cell to undergo morphogenetic rearrangements.

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