We are investigating the hypothesis that carbohydrate-binding molecules on the cell surface are involved in the recirculation of lymphocytes from the bloodstream into lymphoid organs. This phenomenon requires the specific attachment of circulating lymphocytes to the endothelial cells of postcapillary venules. Using an in vitro assay to measure the adhesive interaction between lymphocytes and postcapillary venules, we have found that L-fucose, D mannose, and the L-fucose-rich, sulfated polysaccharide fucoidin specifically inhibit this binding interaction. L-fucose shows stereo-selective inhibitory activity at concentrations greater than 18 mM while fucoidin produces 50% inhibition at approximately 1-5 X 10(-8) M. Fucoidin appears to interact with the lymphocyte, and not the postcapillary venule, to inhibit binding. These data suggest that cell surface carbohydrates (fucoselike) and carbohydrate-binding molecules (cell surface lectins) may contribute to the specific attachment of lymphocytes to postcapillary venules.

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