CONCANAVALIN A (con A) and various other plant lectins have been used extensively to study differences in the organisation of the surface of normal and transformed cells1-3. Cells transformed by oncogenic viruses are agglutinated by doses of con A which do not affect normal cells, but the latter can be made susceptible to agglutination by small doses of con A by brief trypsinisation. Furthermore, the susceptibility of normal cells to agglutination by con A can be increased by infection with various non-oncogenic enveloped viruses, including herpesviruses4,5, poxviruses6, arboviruses7, paramyxoviruses8,9 and rhabdoviruses 9. The mechanism of this increased agglutinability is unknown. Since the glycoproteins in the envelope of such viruses can bind con A9-11, their insertion into the plasma membrane of the infected cell during virus envelopment and release might increase the available con A receptors, which could account for the increased susceptibility to agglutination. We have detected no significant increase in con A receptors on cells infected with Newcastle disease virus (NDV) which were susceptible to agglutination by con A at concentrations that did not affect normal uninfected cells. We have found, however, that the increased agglutinability is due to a redistribution of con A receptors on the cell surface.
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