Embryonic chick neural retina cells release glycoprotein complexes, termed adherons, into their culture medium. When absorbed onto the surface of petri dishes, neural retina adherons increase the initial rate of neural retina cell adhesion. In solution they increase the rate of cell-cell aggregation. Cell-cell and adheron-cell adhesions of cultured retina cells are selectively inhibited by heparan-sulfate glycosaminoglycan, but not by chondroitin sulfate or hyaluronic acid, suggesting that a heparan-sulfate proteoglycan may be involved in the adhesion process. We isolated a heparan-sulfate proteoglycan from the growth-conditioned medium of neural retina cells, and prepared an antiserum against it. Monovalent Fab' fragments of these antibodies completely inhibited cell-adheron adhesion, and partially blocked spontaneous cell-cell aggregation. An antigenically and structurally similar heparan-sulfate proteoglycan was isolated from the cell surface. This proteoglycan bound directly to adherons, and when absorbed to plastic, stimulated cell-substratum adhesion. These data suggest that a heparan-sulfate proteoglycan on the surface of chick neural retina cells acted as a receptor for adhesion-mediating glycoprotein complexes (adherons).

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