The widespread assumption that cytoplasts generated from human polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs) are vesicles consisting solely of cytoplasm surrounded by plasma membrane and devoid of granule activity remains to be tested. PMN cytoplasts were prepared by centrifugation of intact cells on a Ficoll step gradient in the presence of cytochalasin B. Two granule membrane markers, Mol, a fluorometrically detectable antigen, and cytochrome b, both of which have been shown to translocate to the plasma membrane during granule release, were compared for their activity in cytoplasts and intact PMNs. We found that the amount of Mol detected on the plasma membrane of intact PMNs, as compared with other membrane markers (such as antigens LFA-1 and beta 2m), increased 1.6- fold upon exposure of PMNs to Ficoll plus cytochalasin B prior to centrifugation. Another twofold increase in Mol expression occurred upon cytoplast preparation. Release of the granule enzymes, vitamin B12- binding protein, and lysozyme were also followed and correlated well (r = .78 and .92) with the amount of Mol antigen present on the cell surface. Cytochrome b was also found to be higher (1.4-fold) on plasma membranes isolated from cytoplasts than on plasma membranes isolated from intact control cells. These results indicate that some fusion of granule membranes and plasma membranes occurred during treatment of PMNs with Ficoll plus cytochalasin b and during cytoplast preparation.

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