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In polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMN) CD14, one of the receptors for lipopolysaccharides (LPS) is stored intracellularly as a preformed protein, with only few receptors expressed on the surface. We now report that in patients with severe bacterial infections, CD14 expression is profoundly upregulated, as is CD64 (FcγRI), the high-affinity receptor for IgG, whereas CD16 (FcγRIII) was partly lost from the surface. To further analyze regulation of these receptors, PMN of healthy donors were exposed to low doses of LPS. By brief exposure (10-120 min) to LPS, CD14 was transferred to the surface in a cytochalasin B-sensitive manner, as were CD16 and CD64. Prolonged culture (up to 48 h) resulted in a further upregulation of CD14, sustained expression of CD64, and profound decline of CD16, yielding a similar pattern of receptor expression as seen in the patients. Subsequent studies revealed that LPS induced de novo synthesis of CD14: the increase of surface expression could be inhibited by cycloheximide and by interfering with a known LPS-induced signaling event, the translocation of NFκB. Moreover, an up to 10-fold increase of specific mRNA was seen, as was incorporation into CD14 of 35S-methionine. The de novo synthesis prolonged expression of CD14, whereas the CD16 expression declined, generating a PMN phenotype characteristic for severe infection and indicative of escape from apoptosis of a PMN subpopulation.