We have developed chemical affinity reagents for the hepatic galactosyl receptor. Asialoorosomucoid (ASOR) was derivatized with five homobifunctional N-hydroxysuccinimide (NHS) ester cross-linkers. NHS/ASOR derivatives were synthesized, purified, and applied within 10 min to isolated rat hepatocytes at 4 °C. Specific binding of these 125I-labeled derivatives was ~ 90% in the presence of either EGTA or excess ASOR. Specific cross-linking assessed by the resistance of specifically bound NHS/125I-ASOR to release by EGTA, was 50-75% of the specifically bound ligand. The extent of specific cross-linking correlated with the average number of NHS groups per ASOR and was controlled by varying the molar ratio of cross-linker to ASOR during the synthesis. Cross-linking proceeded rapidly at 4 °C as a first-order process (k = 0.25 min-1,t1/2= 2.8 min). After being cross-linked with any of the NHS/125I-ASOR derivatives, cells were washed with EGTA, solubilized in Triton X-100, and analyzed by SDS-PAGE and autoradiography. Major bands were observed at Mr ≃ 84K, 93K, and 105K corresponding to the expected size of 1:1 adducts between NHS/ASOR (Mr ≃ 41.3K) and the three subunits of the receptor, Mr ≃ 43K, 50K, and 60K. The three subunits, rat hepatic lectin (RHL) 1, 2, and 3, were labeled in the ratio of about 1.0:1.2:1.0, respectively. After cross-linking, a polyclonal goat antibody to the receptor immunoprecipitated up to 100% of the specifically cross-linked NHS/125I-ASOR. Preimmune IgG immunoprecipitated <1% of the radiolabeled ligand. Cell surface receptors were cross-linked to NHS-ASOR, extracted with Triton X-100, immunoprecipitated with anti-orosomucoid-Sepharose, and subjected to Western blot analysis. By use of anti-sera specific for RHL 1 or RHL 2/3 (from K. Drickamer), cross-linked complexes of Mr ≃ 85K or ~ 90-115K, respectively, were detected as were un-cross-linked native subunits. The ratio of free to cross-linked subunits was ~ 10:1 for RHL 1 and ~ 0.5:1 for RHL 2/3. We conclude that all three receptor subunits can cross-link to ligand. We propose a model in which the native receptor is a heterohexamer composed of four subunits of RHL 1 and two subunits of RHL 2 and/or RHL 3.
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