During myogenesis myoblasts fuse to form multinucleate cells that express muscle-specific proteins. A specific cell-cell adhesion process precedes lipid bilayer union during myoblast fusion (Knudsen, K. A., and A. F. Horwitz. 1977. Dev. Biol. 58:328-338) and is mediated by cell surface glycoproteins (Knudsen, K. A., 1985. J. Cell Biol. 101:891-897). In this paper we show that myoblast adhesion and myotube formation are inhibited by treating fusion-competent myoblasts with phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C (PI-PLC). The effect of PI-PLC on myoblast adhesion is dose dependent and inhibited by D-myo-inositol 1-monophosphate and the effect on myotube formation is reversible, suggesting a specific, nontoxic effect on myogenesis by the enzyme. A soluble form of adhesion-related glycoproteins is released from fusion-competent myoblasts by treatment with PI-PLC as evidenced by (a) the ability of phospholipase C (PLC)-released material to block the adhesion-perturbing activity of a polyclonal antiserum to intact myoblasts; and (b) the ability of PLC-released glycoprotein to stimulate adhesion-perturbing antisera when injected into mice. PI-PLC treatment of fusion-competent myoblasts releases an isoform of N-CAM into the supernate, suggesting that N-CAM may participate in mediating myoblast interaction during myogenesis.

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