Embryoid bodies formed from teratocarcinoma stem cells differentiate an outer layer consisting of parietal and visceral endoderm or of visceral endoderm exclusively. We have previously shown that when these embryoid bodies are plated on collagen-coated substrates a parietal endoderm-like cell migrates onto the substrate, whereas all of the visceral endoderm remains associated with the stem cell mass, suggesting a role for substrate contact in parietal endoderm differentiation. We now identify fibronectin as the migration-promoting component in these cultures, and note that laminin and collagen type IV are 10-fold less effective at promoting both attachment and endoderm outgrowth. The RGDS tetrapeptide (arg-gly-asp-ser) from the cell attachment domain of fibronectin can specifically block attachment and outgrowth on both fibronectin- and laminin-coated substrates. In addition, the involvement of the 140-kD fibronectin receptor is demonstrated using an antibody directed against this molecule.

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