The binding of human low-density lipoprotein labelled with 125I to rat hepatocytes in monolayer culture was measured at 4 degrees C. Evidence for two different specific binding sites was obtained. Binding to Site 1 was characterized by: being displaced by dextran sulphate or heparin; being dependent on Ca2+; having a Kd value of about 15 micrograms of protein/ml; not being significantly displaced by a 20-fold excess unlabelled low-density lipoprotein that had been reductively methylated; being displaced by approx. 40% by a 20-fold protein excess of unlabelled human high-density lipoprotein, HDL3, and increasing with time in culture when newborn-calf serum was present in the medium. The binding to Site 2 had the following properties: it was not displaced by sulphated polysaccharides; it was only partially Ca2+-dependent, and the presence of EDTA increased the Kd value; the apparent Kd value in the presence of Ca2+ was approx. 30 micrograms of protein/ml, which was significantly higher than for Site 1; it was displaced by approx. 30% with a 20-fold excess of low-density lipoprotein that had been methylated; it was displaced by unlabelled HDL3 to a similar extent to Site 1; it did not increase significantly with time in culture. The characteristics of binding to Sites 1 and 2 are discussed in relation to the receptors for low-density lipoproteins that have previously been described in various cell types. It is proposed that the experimental system described in this paper is suitable for studying the regulation of the binding of low-density lipoproteins to hepatocytes.

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