We have examined the early events of cellular attachment and spreading (10-30 min) by allowing chick embryonic fibroblasts transformed by Rous sarcoma virus to interact with fibronectin immobilized on matrix beads. The binding activity of cells to fibronectin beads was sensitive to both the mAb JG22E and the GRGDS peptide, which inhibit the interaction between integrin and fibronectin. The precise distribution of cytoskeleton components and integrin was determined by immunocytochemistry of frozen thin sections. In suspended cells, the distribution of talin was diffuse in the cytoplasm and integrin was localized at the cell surface. Within 10 min after binding of cells and fibronectin beads at 22 degrees C or 37 degrees C, integrin and talin aggregated at the membrane adjacent to the site of bead attachment. In addition, an internal pool of integrin-positive vesicles accumulated. The mAb ES238 directed against the extracellular domain of the avian beta 1 integrin subunit, when coupled to beads, also induced the aggregation of talin at the membrane, whereas ES186 directed against the intracellular domain of the beta 1 integrin subunit did not. Cells attached and spread on Con A beads, but neither integrin nor talin aggregated at the membrane. After 30 min, when many of the cells were at a more advanced stage of spreading around beads or phagocytosing beads, alpha-actinin and actin, but not vinculin, form distinctive aggregates at sites along membranes associated with either fibronectin or Con A beads. Normal cells also rapidly formed aggregates of integrin and talin after binding to immobilized fibronectin in a manner that was similar to the transformed cells, suggesting that the aggregation process is not dependent upon activity of the pp60v-src tyrosine kinase. Thus, the binding of cells to immobilized fibronectin caused integrin-talin coaggregation at the sites of membrane-ECM contact, which can initiate the cytoskeletal events necessary for cell adhesion and spreading.

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