Glycoprotein IIb-IIIa (alpha IIb beta 3) and the vitronectin receptor (alpha v beta 3), two integrins that share the common beta 3 subunit, have been reported to function as promiscuous receptors for the RGD-containing adhesive proteins fibrinogen, vitronectin, fibronectin, von Willebrand factor, and thrombospondin. The present study was designed to establish a cell system for the expression of either GP IIb-IIIa or the vitronectin receptor in an otherwise identical cellular environment and to compare the adhesive properties of these two integrins with those of native GP IIb-IIIa and the vitronectin receptor constitutively expressed in HEL cells or platelets. M21 human melanoma cells lack GP IIb-IIIa and use the vitronectin receptor to attach to vitronectin, fibrinogen, fibronectin, and von Willebrand factor. To study the functional properties of GP IIb-IIIa in these cells, we transfected GP IIb into M21-L cells, a variant of M21 cells (Cheresh, D.A., and R.C. Spiro. 1987. J. Biol. Chem. 262:17703-17711), which lack the expression of functional alpha v and are therefore unable to attach to vitronectin, fibrinogen, and von Willebrand factor. Transfectants expressing GP IIb were isolated by immunomagnetic beads and surface expression of the GP IIb-IIIa complex was documented by FACS analysis and immunoprecipitation experiments performed with 125I-labeled M21-L/GP IIb cells. Comparative functional studies demonstrated that GP IIb-IIIa expressed in M21-L/GPIIb cells as well as native GP IIb-IIIa constitutively expressed in HEL-5J20 cells (an HEL variant lacking alpha v beta 3) mediated cell attachment to immobilized fibrinogen, but not to vitronectin or von Willebrand factor, whereas the vitronectin receptor expressed in M21 cells and HEL-AD1 cells (an HEL variant expressing alpha v beta 3) mediated cell attachment to fibrinogen, vitronectin, and von Willebrand factor. Similarly, PGl2-treated resting platelets attached to immobilized fibrinogen but not to vitronectin or von Willebrand factor, and this attachment could be inhibited by mAb A2A9 (directed against a functional site on the GP IIb-IIIa complex). However, in contrast to platelets, which adhered to vitronectin and von Willebrand factor after stimulation by thrombin or PMA, activation of the protein kinase C pathway in M21-L/GP IIb or HEL cells did not induce cell adhesion to vitronectin or von Willebrand factor.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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