We have identified an integral membrane glycoprotein in rat liver that mediates adhesion of cultured hepatocytes on fibronectin substrata. The protein was isolated by affinity chromatography of detergent extracts on wheat germ lectin-Agarose followed by chromatography of the WGA binding fraction on fibronectin-Sepharose. The glycoprotein (AGp110), eluted at high salt concentrations from the fibronectin column, has a molecular mass of 110 kD and a pI of 4.2. Binding of immobilized AGp110 to soluble rat plasma fibronectin required Ca2+ ions but was not inhibited by RGD peptides. Fab' fragments of immunoglobulins raised in rabbits against AGp110 reversed the spreading of primary hepatocytes attached onto fibronectin-coated substrata, but had no effect on cells spread on type IV collagen or laminin substrata. The effect of the antiserum on cell spreading was reversible. AGp110 was detected by immunofluorescence around the periphery of the ventral surface of substratum attached hepatocytes, and scattered on the dorsal surface. Immunohistochemical evidence and Western blotting of fractionated liver plasma membranes indicated a bile canalicular (apical) localization of AGp110 in the liver parenchyma. Expression of AGp110 is tissue specific: it was found mainly in liver, kidney, pancreas, and small intestine but was not detected in stomach, skeletal muscle, heart, and large intestine. AGp110 could be labeled by lactoperoxidase-catalyzed surface iodination of intact liver cells and, after phase partitioning of liver plasma membranes with the detergent Triton X-114, it was preferentially distributed in the hydrophobic phase. Treatment with glycosidases indicated extensive sialic acid substitution in at least 10 O-linked carbohydrate chains and 1-2 N-linked glycans. Immunological comparisons suggest that AGp110, the integrin fibronectin receptor and dipeptidyl peptidase IV, an enzyme involved in fibronectin-mediated adhesion of hepatocytes on collagen, are distinct proteins.

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