Residualizing labels are tracers which remain in lysosomes after uptake and catabolism of the carrier protein and have been especially useful for studies on the sites of plasma protein degradation. Thus far these labels have contained radioactive reporters such as 3H or 125I. In the present paper we describe a fluorescent residualizing label, NN-dilactitol-N′-fluoresceinylethylenediamine (DLF). Modification of asialofetuin (ASF) or rat serum albumin (RSA) with DLF affected neither their normal kinetics of clearance from the rat circulation nor their normal tissue sites of uptake and degradation. After injection of DLF-ASF, fluorescent degradation products were recovered nearly quantitatively in liver and retained with a half-life of about 2 days. Fluorescent degradation products from DLF-RSA were recovered in skin and muscle, and were localized in fibroblasts by fluorescence microscopy. These results confirm previous studies with radioactive residualizing labels in which fibroblasts in peripheral tissues were identified as primary sites of albumin degradation. Fluorescent catabolites also accumulated in fibroblasts incubated with DLF-RSA in vitro, and residualized with a half-life of about 2 days. Overall, the data establish that DLF functions efficiently as a fluorescent residualizing label both in vivo and in vitro. The advantages of fluorescent, compared with radioactive, residualizing labels should make them valuable tools for studies on protein uptake and catabolism in biological systems.

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