Nonrandom distribution of epidermal growth factor receptors on the plasma membrane of human A431 cells

Maria Rosaria Torrisi, Antonio Pavan, Lavinia Vittoria Lotti, Claudia Zompetta, Alberto Faggioni, Luigi Frati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The localization of epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptors over the plasma membranes of human epidermoid carcinoma A431 cells was analyzed at the electron microscopic level using surface replica techniques and conventional thin sections, in combination with immunocytochemistry. Immunolabeling was performed using two distinct monoclonal antibodies directed against the extracellular portion of the receptor, followed by protein A-colloidal gold conjugates. Unexpectedly, with the first monoclonal antibody used, the distribution of the receptors in both unfixed and glutaraldehyde-fixed cells was clearly regionalized, showing a preferential localization of the immunolabeling at the cell periphery as well as over the areas rich in microvilli and in coated and uncoated pits. A similar pattern of distribution was observed also with the other monoclonal antibody, but only when the cells were fixed with glutaraldehyde before immunolabeling. Treatment with the phorbol ester 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate modifies this distribution, inducing a more disperse pattern. Our observations suggest that a minor group of EGF receptors, which may represent the high-affinity receptors, presents a regional distribution, similar to that described for typical recycling receptors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)326-333
Number of pages8
JournalExperimental Cell Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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