Adherons are high molecular weight glycoprotein complexes which are released into the growth medium of cultured cells. They mediate the adhesive interactions of many cell types, including those of embryonic chick neural retina. The cell surface receptor for chick neural retina adherons has been purified, and shown to be a heparan sulfate proteoglycan (Schubert, D., and M. LaCorbiere, 1985, J. Cell Biol., 100:56-63). This paper describes the isolation and characterization of a protein in neural retina adherons which interacts specifically with the cell surface receptor. The 20,000-mol-wt protein, called retinal purpurin (RP), stimulates neural retina cell-substratum adhesion and prolongs the survival of neural retina cells in culture. The RP protein interacts with heparin and heparan sulfate, but not with other glycosaminoglycans. Monovalent antibodies against RP inhibit RP-cell adhesion as well as adheron-cell interactions. The RP protein is found in neural retina, but not in other tissues such as brain and muscle. These data suggest that RP plays a role in both the survival and adhesive interactions of neural retina cells.

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