Modulation of the distribution of plasma membrane tramembranous particles in contact-inhibited and transformed cells

L. T. Furcht, R. E. Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The intrinsic organization of the plasma membrane differs in normal and transformed cells. With the technique of freeze fracture and electron microscopy contact inhibited 3T3 cells have been shown to contain aggregated plasma membrane intramembranous particles, while transformed cells demonstrate a uniform particle distribution. The distribution of intramembranous particles in transformed cells can be affected by colchicine or vinblastine which induces a dose- and time-dependent particle aggregation. These observations suggest that microtubules and other membrane-associated colchicine-sensitive proteins probably influence the distribution of intrinsic membrane proteins and intramembranous particles in nucleated mammalian cells. An aggregated particle distribution has been observed in 3T3 cells or colchicine-treated transformed cells frozen in media, phosphate-buffered saline or following brief exposure to glycerol, sucrose or dimethyl sulfoxide containing solutions, independent of whether specimens were rapidly frozen from 37 °C, room temperature or 4 °C incubations. Cells briefly stabilized in 1% formaldehyde yields similar patterns of particle distribution as cells rapidly frozen in media or in cryoprotectants. Glutaraldehyde fixation of cells, however, appears to alter the fracturing process in these cells, as visualized by an altered fracture face appearance, decreased numbers of particles, and no particle aggregates. Differences in membrane organization between normal and transformed cells have therefore been demonstrated using a series of preparative methods and colchicine and vinblastine have been shown to modulate intramembranous particle distribution in transformed 3T3 cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-220
Number of pages8
JournalBBA - Biomembranes
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 20 1975


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