Murine bone marrow-derived macrophages, which measure 13.8 +/− 2.3 microns diameter in suspension, can ingest IgG-opsonized latex beads greater than 20 microns diameter. A precise assay has allowed the determination of the phagocytic capacity, and of physiological parameters that limit that capacity. Ingestion of beads larger than 15 microns diameter required IgG-opsonization, and took 30 minutes to reach completion. Despite the dependence on Fc-receptors for phagocytosis of larger beads, cells reached their limit before all cell surface Fc-receptors were occupied. The maximal membrane surface area after frustrated phagocytosis of opsonized coverslips was similar to the membrane surface area required to engulf particles at the limiting diameter, indicating that the capacity was independent of particle shape. Vacuolation of the lysosomal compartment with sucrose, which expanded endocytic compartments, lowered the phagocytic capacity. This decrease was reversed when sucrose vacuoles were collapsed by incubation of cells with invertase. These experiments indicate that the phagocytic capacity is limited by the amount of available membrane, rather than by the availability of Fc-receptors. The capacity was also reduced by depolymerization of cytoplasmic microtubules with nocodazole. Nocodazole did not affect the area of maximal cell spreading during frustrated phagocytosis, but did alter the shape of the spread cells. Thus, microtubules may coordinate cytoplasm for engulfment of the largest particles.
- © 1992 by Company of Biologists