Thrombospondin (TS) is a modular adhesive glycoprotein that contains three domains previously implicated in the attachment of cells to TS. These include the amino-terminal heparin-binding domain, the carboxy terminal cell or platelet-binding domain, and an RGDA sequence of TS. We have characterized a mAb against human TS, designated A4.1, which inhibits the attachment of human melanoma cells (G361) to TS. The epitope for A4.1 lies within the amino terminal half of the central stalklike region of TS which is distinct from the three known cell attachment sites. This region of TS is recovered in a 50-kD peptide after chymotryptic digestion of TS in EDTA. It contains the procollagen-like domain of TS as well as three type I repeats of a 60-residue segment homologous to two malarial proteins and the complement proteins properdin, and factors C6 through C9. The purified chymotryptic fragment is an effective attachment factor for G361 cells. A4.1 blocks adhesion to the 50-kD domain, as do some sulfated glycoconjugates. RGD (and RGE) peptides and mAbs against other domains of TS are not inhibitory. Peptides (19 mers) based on the core homology sequence of the three type I repeats of TS are potent attachment factors for these cells, and this adhesion is also inhibited by sulfated glycoconjugates. A polyclonal antibody raised against one of these peptides inhibits adhesion of G361 cells to the peptides, to the 50-kD fragment and to intact TS. Thus a new cell-adhesion site has been identified in TS whose sequence is very similar to the site identified in region II of the circumsporozoite protein of malaria parasites (Rich, K. A., F. W. George IV, J. L. Law, and W. J. Martin. 1990. Science (Wash. DC) 249:1574-1577. Thus there may be a common receptor which binds TS, malarial proteins, and properdin.

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