Substrate adhesion of rat hepatocytes: on the mechanism of attachment to fibronectin.
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We examined the mechanisms of cell attachment to fibronectin-coated substrates. Inhibition of cell attachment was obtained by species-specific antifibronectin antibodies, which presumably recognize a distinct antigenic structure in the protein located at, or in the immediate vicinity of, the cell-binding site. The inhibiting antibodies could be adsorbed on a column of Sepharose substituted with plasma fibronectin. The initial phase of cell attachment was also inhibited by addition of soluble fibronectin to the incubation medium in a reaction that exhibited specificity and concentration dependence. These data suggest that cell-binding sites are available in an active form on the surface of soluble fibronectin. However, the inhibitory effect of fibronectin was greatly enhanced by adding the protein together with heparin, heparan sulfate, collagen, or a fibronectin-binding collagen peptide (CB-7), which is consistent with an "activation" of fibronectin on binding to these matrix components. A similar activation of fibronectin was obtained by cleaving the protein with trypsin. We discuss these findings in relation to conformational rearrangements in the fibronectin molecule. Data is presented supporting a mechanism of cell attachment to fibronectin involving multiple weak interactions between cellular receptors and substrate molecules, although some steps in the attachment process appear to disobey the requirements for such a mechanism.
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