The abilities of malignant tumor cells to bind and migrate through basement membranes are important steps in invasion and metastasis. Malignant tumor cells would therefore be expected to express receptors on their surfaces for basement membrane and stromal components, such as collagens, laminin, and fibronectin, although the pattern of expression of these receptors on the malignant cells may be different from that on their normal progenitors. We report here that chemically transformed tumorigenic human cells express an altered pattern of integrin receptors on their cell surfaces as compared with their untransformed nontumorigenic counterparts. Specifically, N-methyl-N'-nitro-N-nitrosoguanidine transformation of HOS cells into highly tumorigenic cells results in a significant specific increase in the expression of (in descending order of level of cell surface expression) the integrins alpha 6/beta 1, alpha 2/beta 1, and alpha 1/beta 1, which are receptors for laminin, collagens, and collagen type IV and laminin, respectively. The level of expression of two fibronectin receptor integrins, alpha 5/beta 1 and alpha 3/beta 1, are, however, unaltered, whereas the level of expression of vitronectin receptor integrin, alpha v/beta 3, is drastically reduced on the transformed cells. Consistent with the increased expression of laminin and collagen receptors and the decreased expression of vitronectin receptors on the transformed cells, these cells attached three- to fivefold more strongly to laminin and collagen but attached very poorly to vitronectin. The MNNG-HOS cells were also found to have a greater potential for invasion through reconstituted basement membrane, matrigel, the major components of which are laminin and type IV collagen. The invasion of both the HOS and MNNG-HOS cells was inhibited 45-50% by a polyclonal anti-fibronectin receptor antibody. However, although the invasion of HOS cells could be inhibited up to 75% by an anti-alpha 6 monoclonal antibody, a similar concentration of this antibody had no effect on the alpha 6-overproducing MNNG-HOS cells. A fivefold higher concentration of this antibody did result in partial inhibition of MNNG-HOS invasion. These data indicate a critical role for the alpha 6/beta 1 laminin receptor in the invasion of these cells through basement membranes and demonstrate that chemical transformation of nontumorigenic human cells to highly tumorigenic cells is associated with an altered pattern of integrin expression which may play a direct role in the increased capacity of these cells to bind and invade through basement membranes.

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