Two subfragments of laminin, E8, a major part of the long arm, and E1-4, the three short arms, promote cell adhesion and spreading. Three distinct types of adhesive behavior are seen in short term (1 h) assays, typified by secondary murine fibroblasts, adherent only on fibronectin; secondary murine myoblasts, adherent on fibronectin, laminin, and the E8 fragment; and Rugli human glioblastoma cells, adherent on fibronectin, laminin, E8, and E1-4. E8-specific polyclonal antibodies block myoblast adhesion to E8 and to laminin with identical concentration dependence; Rugli binding to E8 but not to laminin is also totally blocked by these antibodies. Heating of E8 and laminin to approximately 60 degrees C abolishes cell attachment-promoting activity for myoblasts. Adhesion of Rugli cells to E8 is also lost, but on laminin the attachment-promoting activity remains constant. This is due to an increase in the activity of E1-4 fragment as it is heated. Thus, major sites for initial cell adhesion to and spreading on laminin lie within the E8 and E1-4 fragments, but not all cells binding to laminin will bind to both fragments. These data may tentatively be explained by the existence of more than one type of receptor for laminin at the cell surface; one is needed for each fragment.

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