In vitro culture of mouse blastocysts during the period coinciding with implantation has revealed that primary trophoblast cells can adhere and migrate in serum-free medium when provided with certain extracellular matrix components, including fibronectin and laminin. Tightly associated with laminin is the glycoprotein, entactin, that may play an important role in basement membrane assembly and cell attachment. Mouse blastocysts were studied using this in vitro model to determine whether entactin was capable of mediating trophoblast invasive activity. Although entactin has never been shown to promote cell migration, we report here that recombinant entactin supported blastocyst outgrowth in a dose-dependent manner, with a maximal effect at 20-50 micrograms/ml. The ability of trophoblast cells to adhere and migrate on entactin was specifically inhibited by anti-entactin antibody, but not by antibodies raised against laminin. The synthetic peptide, Gly-Arg-Gly-Asp-Ser-Pro, that contains the Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD) integrin recognition site, reversibly inhibited entactin-mediated blastocyst outgrowth in a dose-dependent manner, but had no effect on laminin-mediated outgrowth. The synthetic peptide, Gly-Phe-Arg-Gly-Asp-Gly-Gln, that comprises the actual RGD-containing sequence within entactin, promoted trophoblast outgrowth when immobilized on the substratum. Furthermore, a mutated recombinant entactin, altered to contain a Glu in place of Asp at the RGD site, provided no trophoblast cell adhesive activity. We conclude that entactin promotes trophoblast outgrowth through a mechanism mediated by the RGD recognition site, and that it may play an important role during invasion of the endometrial basement membrane at implantation.

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