Thrombospondin induces the migration of human melanoma and carcinoma cells. Using a modified Boyden chamber assay, tumor cells migrated to a gradient of soluble thrombospondin (chemotaxis). Checkerboard analysis indicated that directional migration was induced 27-fold greater than stimulation of random motility. Tumor cells also migrated in a dose-dependent manner to a gradient of substratum-bound thrombospondin (haptotaxis). A series of human melanoma and carcinoma cells were compared for their relative motility stimulation by thrombospondin haptotaxis vs. chemotaxis. Some cell lines exhibited a stronger haptotactic response compared to their chemotactic response while other lines exhibited little or no migration response to thrombospondin. Human A2058 melanoma cells which exhibit a strong haptotactic and chemotactic response to thrombospondin were used to study the structural domains of thrombospondin required for the response. Monoclonal antibody C6.7, which binds to the COOH-terminal region of thrombospondin, inhibited haptotaxis in a dose-dependent optimal manner. C6.7 had no significant effect on thrombospondin chemotaxis. In contrast, monoclonal antibody A2.5, heparin, and fucoidan, which bind to the NH2-terminal heparin-binding domain of thrombospondin, inhibited thrombospondin chemotaxis but not haptotaxis. Monoclonal antibody A6.1 directed against the internal core region of thrombospondin had no significant effect on haptotaxis or chemotaxis. Synthetic peptides GRGDS (50 micrograms/ml), but not GRGES, blocked tumor cell haptotaxis on fibronectin, but had minimal effect on thrombospondin or laminin haptotaxis. The 140-kD fragment of thrombospondin lacking the heparin-binding amino-terminal region retained the property to fully mediate haptotaxis but not chemotaxis. When the COOH region of the 140-kD fragment, containing the C6.7-binding site, was cleaved off, the resulting 120-kD fragment (which retains the RGDA sequence) failed to induce haptotaxis. Separate structural domains of thrombospondin are therefore required for tumor cell haptotaxis vs. chemotaxis. This may have implications during hematogenous cancer metastases formation.

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