Embryonic chick neural retina cells in culture release complexes of proteins and glycosaminoglycans, termed adherons, which stimulate cell-substratum adhesion when adsorbed to nonadhesive surfaces. Two distinct retinal cell surface macromolecules, a 170,000-mol-wt glycoprotein and a heparan sulfate proteoglycan; are components of adherons that can independently promote adhesion when coated on inert surfaces. The 170,000-mol-wt polypeptide contains a heparin-binding domain, as indicated by its retention on heparin-agarose columns and its ability to bind [3H]heparin in solution. The attachment of embryonic chick retinal cells to the 170,000-mol-wt protein also depends upon interactions between the protein and the heparan sulfate proteoglycan, since heparan sulfate in solution disrupts adhesion of chick neural retina cells to glass surfaces coated with the 170,000-mol-wt protein. This adhesion is not impaired by chondroitin sulfate or hyaluronic acid, which indicates that inhibition by heparan sulfate is specific. Polyclonal antisera directed against the cell surface heparan sulfate proteoglycan also inhibit attachment of retinal cells to the 170,000-mol-wt protein, which suggests that cell-adheron binding is mediated in part by interactions between cell surface heparan sulfate proteoglycan and 170,000-mol-wt protein contained in the adheron particles. Previous studies have indicated that this type of cell-substratum adhesion is tissue-specific since retina cells do not attach to muscle adherons. Schubert D., M. LaCorbiere, F. G. Klier, and C. Birdwell, 1983, J. Cell Biol. 96:990-998.

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