The presence and localization of lectin receptor sites on rat liver cell nuclear and other endomembranes was studied by light and electron microscopy using fluorescein and ferritin-coupled lectin conjugates. Isolated nuclei labelled with fluorescein-conjugated Concanavalin A (Con A) or wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) often showed membrane staining, which sometimes was especially bright on small stretches of the nuclear surface. Unlabelled nuclei and nuclei with a complete ring fluorescence were also seen. The nuclear fluorescence corresponded in intensity to that seen on the surface of isolated rat liver cells. Con A-ferritin particles were seldom detected on the cytoplasmic surface of the intact nuclear envelope. However, at places where the 2 leaflets of the envelope were widely separated or where the outer nuclear membrane was partly torn away, heavy labelling was seen on the cisternal surface of both the inner and outer nuclear membranes. Labelling with Con A-ferritin was also found on the cisternal side of rough endoplasmic reticulum present in the specimens. No labelling was seen on the cytoplasmic surface of mitochondrial outer membrane. The results demonstrate the presence of binding sites for Con A and WGA in nuclei and an asymmetric localization of these sites on the cisternal side of ribosome-carrying endomembranes in rat liver cells.

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