Human platelet thrombospondin adsorbed on plastic promotes attachment and spreading of human G361 melanoma cells. Attachment is rapid, and spreading is maximal by 90 min with 60-90% of the attached cells spread. In contrast, thrombospondin promotes attachment but not spreading of human C32 melanoma cells, which attach and spread only on laminin substrates. The specificity of these interactions and the regions of the thrombospondin molecule involved in attachment and spreading were examined using proteolytic fragments of thrombospondin and by inhibition studies. The sulfated fucan, fucoidan, and monoclonal antibody A2.5, which is directed against the heparin-binding domain of thrombospondin, selectively inhibit spreading but only weakly inhibit attachment. Monoclonal antibodies against some other domains of thrombospondin, however, are potent inhibitors of attachment. The amino-terminal heparin-binding domain of thrombospondin does not promote attachment. Large fragments lacking the heparin-binding domain support attachment but not spreading of G361 cells. Attachment activity is lost following removal of the 18-kD carboxyl-terminal domain. These results suggest that at least two melanoma ligands are involved in cell attachment and spreading on thrombospondin. The carboxyl-terminal region and perhaps other regions of the molecule bind to receptor(s) on the melanoma surface that promote initial attachment but not cell spreading. Interaction of the heparin-binding domain with sulfated glycoconjugates on melanoma surface proteoglycans and/or sulfated glycolipids mediates spreading. Monoclonal antibodies A2.5 and C6.7 also reverse spreading of G361 cells growing on glass culture substrates, suggesting that binding to thrombospondin mediates attachment of these melanoma cells in culture.

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