Characterization of parameters influencing receptor-mediated endocytosis in cultured soybean cells

Mark A. Horn, Peter F. Heinstein, Philip S. Low

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


In a recent publication, we were able to demonstrate that biotin enters plant cells by receptor-mediated endocytosis and that impermeable macromolecules can be cotransported into cells by the same pathway if they are first covalently linked to biotin. In the present study, we have exploited the biotin endocytosis pathway to evaluate the variables in the cell wall and surrounding growth medium that influence the efficiency of endocytosis in plants. Under normal growth conditions, the major constraint limiting macromolecule endocytosis was found to be the size of the internalized macromolecule. Thus, a log-linear relationship with a negative slope exists between the molecular weight of the biotin-conjugated macromolecule and its rate of intemalization by cultured soybean cells. This relationship, which extends from insulin (Mr approximately 5700) to immunoglobulin G (Mr approximately 160,000), is characterized by a slope of -1.04 × 105 molecules/cell/min per log Mr unit and an x intercept (no endocytosis detectable) of approximately log 160,000 daltons. Unfortunately, mild digestion with cell wall-degrading enzymes is unable to increase significantly the upper size limit of molecules that can be internalized, but uptake of lower molecular weight proteins can be enhanced by mild cell wall digestion. The optimal extracellular pH for endocytosis was found to be 4.6, i.e. near the normal pH of the cell culture medium. Furthermore, the osmotic strength at which endocytosis occurs most rapidly was observed to be isotonic to slightly hypotonic, suggesting that turgor pressure within the plant cell must not be a major determinant of endocytosis rates by cultured soybean (Glycine max) cells. Finally, cell age was found to impact significantly on the rate of macromolecule intemalization, with maximal uptake rates occurring during early exponential growth and decreasing by a factor of 2 when the cells reach stationary growth phase.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)673-679
Number of pages7
JournalPlant Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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