Stereologic analysis was made of cell surface membrane (PM) and two interrelated cytoplasmic membrane systems, the vacuole membranes (VM) and small vesicle membranes (SVM). Volumes and surface areas of the three membrane compartments were measured during steady-state pinocytosis, when membrane recycling is rapid, and during phagocytosis, when a shift to a lower rate of membrane uptake by endocytosis occurs (B. Bowers, 1977, Exp. Cell Res. 110:409). Total membrane area in the three compartments was 3.2 micrometers 2/micrometers 3 of protoplasmic volume and was constant throughout the experiments. In pinocytosing cells, 32% of the membrane was in the PM, 25% in the vM, and 43% in the SVM. The vacuole compartment occupies approximately 20% of the total cell volume, and the small vesicle, approximately 3%. As the endocytic uptake of membrane from the surface decreased, there was an increase in PM area and a marked decrease in SVM area. The VM area remained constant even though "empty" vacuoles were almost completely replaced by newly formed phagosomes within 45 min. This demonstrates directly a rapid flux of membrane though this compartment. A model, taking into consideration these and other data on Acanthamoeba, is proposed to account for the observed membrane shifts. The data suggest that the vacuolar (digestive) system of Acanthamoeba is central to cellular control of endocytosis and membrane recycling.

This content is only available as a PDF.