Previous studies have shown that the leukocyte integrin CR3 (CD11b/CD18) is physically associated with the urokinase-type plasminogen activator receptor (uPAR;CD87), a glycosyl-phosphatidylinositol (GPI)-linked protein, in resting neutrophil membranes. We now show that uPAR-to-CR3 interactions are reversible, correlating with cell shape. Neutrophils were first labeled with fluorescein conjugates of anti-CR3 F(ab')2 fragments followed by capping using a second-step F(ab')2 directed against murine F(ab')2s. Cells were then probed using rhodamine-conjugated anti-uPAR F(ab')2s. Although uPAR co-caps with CR3 on resting cells, uPAR was found to dissociate or "uncap" coincident with spontaneous cell polarization for migration. CR3 caps transformed into uropods while uPAR accumulated at lamellipodia of polarized cells. Capping was unnecessary for the observed distribution of CR3 and uPAR since the anti-CR3 and anti-uPAR F(ab')2s traffic to the uropod and lamellipodium, respectively, during polarization of uncapped cells. These receptors reassociate when cells return to a spherical morphology. In contrast to uPAR, Fc gamma RIIIB did not dissociate from CR3 caps during cell polarization. Resonance energy transfer (RET) microscopy was used to image the spatial distribution of RET and to follow the kinetics of association and dissociation. Initial levels of RET dramatically fell during cell polarization, but did not change on cells fixed with paraformaldehyde. Receptor reassociation was a biphasic process with initial reassociation about the perimeter of a cap, followed by a plateau and a slower rise in RET within a cap. We suggest that cells regulate receptor-receptor associations depending upon their physiologic activities.

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