Chicken vertebral chondrocytes, which normally grow in suspension, synthesize large amounts of cartilage extracellular matrix proteins, but little fibronectin. We have analyzed the effects of both substrate attachment and transformation with a temperature-sensitive mutant of Rous sarcoma virus on fibronectin gene expression in these cells. Our experiments show that viral transformation increases fibronectin synthesis to a greater extent than substrate attachment. Furthermore, transformed chondrocytes have lost the ability to decrease fibronectin synthesis in response to suspension culture, suggesting that transformation alters the normal attachment-responsive control of fibronectin gene expression. Finally, infected substrate-attached chondrocytes shifted to the nonpermissive temperature for transformation use fibronectin RNA more efficiently in protein synthesis than cells grown under the other conditions, suggesting for the first time a role for translational control of fibronectin gene expression.

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