Macrophage receptors for the Fc domain of immunoglobulin G (IgG) can mediate the efficient binding and phagocytosis of IgG-coated particles. After internalization, phagocytic vacuoles fuse with lysosomes, initiating the degradation of their contents. Using specific monoclonal and polyclonal antireceptor antibodies, we have now analyzed the internalization and fate of Fc receptors during the uptake of IgG-coated erythrocytes and erythrocyte ghosts by mouse peritoneal macrophages. Receptor-mediated phagocytosis led to the selective and largely irreversible removal of Fc receptors (greater than 50%) from the macrophage plasma membrane. The expression of several other plasma membrane proteins (including a receptor for complement), recognized by a series of antimacrophage monoclonal antibodies, was affected only slightly. Interiorized Fc receptors were rapidly and selectively degraded. This was demonstrated by a series of turnover studies in which Fc receptor was immunoprecipitated from lysates of 125I-labeled macrophages. These experiments were made possible by the development of a polyclonal rabbit antiserum, raised against isolated Fc receptor, which recognized the receptor even in the presence of bound ligand. In control cells, the receptor turned over with a t1/2 of approximately 10 h; after phagocytosis, greater than 50% of the receptors were degraded with a t1/2 of less than 2 h. The turnover of other unrelated plasma membrane proteins was unaffected (t1/2 of 18-23 h) under these conditions.

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