Laminin derived from the Engelbreth-Holm-Swarm (EHS) tumor and a lamininlike molecule synthesized by RN22 Schwannoma cells both stimulate rapid neurite outgrowth, consistent with a common neurite-promoting site. However, antilaminin antisera can only inhibit the activity of the EHS laminin. The blocking antibodies in such sera are directed against the terminal heparin-binding domain of the laminin long arm (Edgar, D., R. Timpl, and H. Thoenen. 1984. EMBO [Eur. Mol. Biol. Organ.] J. 3: 1463-1468). These epitopes are demonstrated by immunoblotting to be part of the A chain and to be absent in RN22 laminin, showing (through metabolic labeling) that the cells synthesized little if any 440-kD A chain. This indicates that the antibody inhibition was probably due to steric hindrance, a common neurite-promoting site, apparently not being antigenic in native molecules. Antibodies raised against a 25-kD proteolytic fragment derived from the long arm of laminin were then used as probes to identify other potential neurite-promoting structures. Although these antibodies do not cross-react with native laminin, they recognized the B chains of denatured EHS and RN22 molecules on immunoblots. The antibodies also bound to the large proteolytic fragment, derived from the long arm of laminin that contains the neurite-promoting site, thus inhibiting its activity. Taken together, these results point to the localization of normally nonantigenic, defined, B chain sequences within or close to the neurite-promoting site of laminin.

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