Studies directed at understanding the molecular basis of liver cell homotypic adhesion are presented. An assay which measures the rate of adhesion of isotopically labeled (32PO4) embryonic chick liver cells to liver cell aggregates, described in a companion paper, has been used to investigate the problem of intercellular adhesive selectivity. Cation requirements, the effects of various inhibitors of metabolism and protein synthesis, of chelators (EDTA and EGTA), and the effects of temperature on liver cell adhesion are reported. Two mechanisms of inhibition of liver intercellular adhesion are suggested. One involves destruction of cell-surface adhesion receptors (sensitivity to proteases); the other is an energy-dependent step which may involve alterations in plasma membrane conformation and/or membrane fluidity. Finally, a model is suggested for liver cell-cell adhesion that incorporates the early tissue selectivity of intercellular adhesion previously reported, followed by a multistep process which leads to histogenic aggregation.

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