A number of cell surface receptors bind to distinct laminin domains, thereby mediating laminin's diverse biological activities. Cell surface beta 1,4-galactosyltransferase (GalTase) functions as one of these laminin receptors, facilitating mesenchymal cell migration and PC12 cell neurite outgrowth on laminin. In this study, the GalTase binding site within laminin was identified as the E8 fragment by assaying purified fragments and by immunoprecipitating and immunoblotting galactosylated laminin using E8-reactive antibodies. Compared with intact laminin and other laminin fragments, E8 possessed the highest GalTase binding activity, using both membrane-bound and solubilized GalTase. More significantly, the neurite-promoting activity of fragment E8 was shown to be dependent upon its interaction with GalTase. Pregalactosylating purified E8 eliminated subsequent GalTase binding and consequently inhibited neurite initiation; parallel studies on laminin fragments E1-4 or E1 failed to affect neurite outgrowth. Furthermore, anti-GalTase IgG inhibited neurite initiation on purified E8 substrates; control IgG had no effect. These results localize the predominant GalTase binding domain in laminin to fragment E8 and demonstrate that the neurite-promoting activity of E8 is dependent upon its interaction with GalTase.

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