Using a sensitive and quantitative adhesion assay, we have studied the initial stages of the intercellular adhesion of the C2 mouse myoblast line. After dissociation in low levels of trypsin in EDTA, C2 cells can rapidly reaggregate by Ca2+-independent mechanisms to form large multicellular aggregates. If cells are allowed to recover from dissociation by incubation in defined media, this adhesive system is augmented by a Ca2+-dependent mechanism with maximum recovery seen after 4 h incubation. The Ca2+-independent adhesion system is inhibited by preincubation of cell monolayers with cycloheximide before dissociation. Aggregation is also reduced after exposure to monensin, implicating a role for surface-translocated glycoproteins in this mechanism of adhesion. In coaggregation experiments using C2 myoblasts and 3T3 fibroblasts in which the Ca2+-dependent adhesion system was inactivated, no adhesive specificity between the two cell types was seen. Although synthetic peptides containing the RGD sequence are known to inhibit cell-substratum adhesion in various cell types, incubation of C2 myoblasts with the integrin-binding tetrapeptide, RGDS, greatly stimulated the Ca2+-independent aggregation of these cells while control analogs had no effect. These results show that a Ca2+-independent mechanism alone is sufficient to allow for the rapid formation of multicellular aggregates in a mouse myoblast line, and that many of the requirements and perturbants of the Ca2+-independent system of intercellular myoblast adhesion are similar to those of the Ca2+-dependent adhesion mechanisms.

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