A high molecular weight glycoconjugate has been isolated from neurite-producing neuronal tumor cells in culture and has been designated as I(0) based on its elution characteristics in gel filtration chromatography. This molecule cannot be found in a variety of nonneuronal cells. I(0) is found in the substratum-attached material or cell fraction of neurite-producing neuroblastoma cells, depending upon culture conditions. It is found in the substratum-bound fraction of B104 rat neuroblastoma cells during serum starvation and in the EGTA-detached cell fraction of B104 cells grown in chemically defined N2 medium. It occurs only in the cell fraction of the human neuroblastoma line Platt. Examination of behavioral variants of the B104 rat line further strengthens the association of I(0) with neurite production; the constitutive neurite-producing E(R)B9 variant contains I(0) while the non-neurite-producing E(R)A11 variant does not. I(0) is large, eluting in the void volume of sepharose-CL2B columns. Radioiodination of intact cells with lactoperoxidase shows I(0) to be a cell surface component. Metabolic radiolabeling studies show that it contains a high proportion of polysaccharide to protein, does not contain mannose, and is unsulfated. Alkaline borohydride reduction release two size classes of large polysaccharide chain. The alkaline reduction results, along with the mannose incorporation studies, show the presence of O-glycosidic linkages and few, if any, N-linkages. Resistance to nitrous acid deamination, insensitivity to glycosaminoglycan lyases, and the absence of sulfation, indicate that I(0) does not contain the glycosaminoglycans hyaluronic acid, chondroitin-, dermatan-, or heparin- sulfates. Affinity column chromatography reveals high binding affinity of I(0) to polyornithine and no binding to gelatin (collagen) or the glycosaminoglycans hyaluronate and heparin. These studies describe a unique high molecular weight glycoconjugate on the surface of neurite-producing neuroblastoma cell lines from two species.

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