Incubation of culture supernatants from concanavalin A-stimulated guinea pig and rat lymphocytes with protein-free preparations of bovine brain gangliosides abolished their macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) and macrophage activation factor (MAF) activity. The identity of the MIF/MAF-binding component(s) present in these glycolipid mixtures has yet to be established, but adsorption experiments using purified preparations of mono- (GM1, GM2, and GM3), di- (GD1a), and trisialogangliosides (GT1) were negative. Since these gangliosides account for over 90% of the glycolipid content in brain ganglioside mixtures it appears that the MIF-binding component(s) is present only in very small amounts. Treatment of guinea pig peritoneal macrophages with liposomes containing similar brain gangliosides or water-soluble glycolipids extracted from guinea pig macrophages enhanced their responsiveness to MIF. The enhanced response to MIF of liposome-treated macrophages was abolished by incubation of the treated macrophages with fucose-binding lectins (Lotus agglutinin and Ulex europaeus agglutinin I) before exposure to MIF, suggesting that the MIF-binding component donated by the liposomes may be a fucose-containing glycolipid. The possible role of glycolipids as surface receptors for MIF and MAF is discussed.
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