Plasma membrane folds on the mast cell surface and their relationship to secretory activity

S. J. Burwen, B. H. Satir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Changes in the surface morphology of secreting mast cells have been followed by scanning electron microscopy. Mast cells isolated from the rat peritoneal cavity have folds of plasma membrane that form snake-like ridges on their surfaces. Fold length varies considerably from cell to cell, whereas fold width and depth appear to remain relatively constant. To assess the possible relationship between secretory activity and surface folding, a semiquantitative method was used for measuring fold length in control and secreting populations. A positive correlation is found between secretion of histamine and the extent of membrane folds on the mast cell surface. The source of the membrane required for fold formation is probably secretory granule membrane incorporated into the plasma membrane as a result of exocytosis. Furthermore, a distinct cell type devoid of surface folds, designated as a raspberry type cell, is found to occur as an integral part of a normal population of mast cells. This cell type is resistant to stimulation by polymyxin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)690-697
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Cell Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1977
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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