To evaluate the relative mobilities of cell surface glycoconjugates during myogenesis we have studied the redistribution of fluorescein-conjugated plant lectins on L6 rat myogenic cells. Previous experiments had demonstrated that the receptors for the lectins soybean agglutinin (SBA), wheat germ agglutinin, concanavalin A and Lens culinaris agglutinin all were relatively uniformly distributed on both myoblasts and myotubes, and that SBA receptors were capable of rapid redistribution on myotubes but not myoblasts at 4 degrees C (Sawyer & Akeson, 1983). Here we show that when SBA-labelled myoblasts are incubated at 37 degrees C, or for extended times at 4 degrees C, the lectin aggregates as on myotubes. So it appears that SBA-binding components show a quantitative rather than qualitative change in their mobility during L6 differentiation. In addition, the redistribution of the three other lectins on myoblasts and myotubes was either less prominent (i.e. showing fewer apparent surface clusters) or occurred less rapidly than with SBA. None of these three lectins showed striking differences in mobility between myoblasts and myotubes. Thus, it appears that SBA binds to a subset of surface glycoconjugates that is relatively highly mobile, and that this mobility is specifically enhanced with differentiation.

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