We present evidence that the neurite out-growth stimulated by the binding of Thy-1 antibodies to PC12 cells is mediated by calcium influx through both N- and L-type calcium channels. PC12 cells cultured on a noncellular substratum in the presence of NGF, or on a cellular substratum in the absence of NGF, responded to soluble Thy-1 antibody by extending longer neurites. The response required bivalent antibody and could be blocked by removing Thy-1 from the surface of PC12 cells with phosphatidylinositol specific phospholipase C. The response could also be blocked by reducing extracellular calcium to 0.25 mM, or by antagonists of L- and N-type calcium channels. Additionally, the response could be fully inhibited by preloading PC12 cells with BAPTA/AM which buffers changes in intracellular calcium. A heterotrimeric G-protein is also implicated in the pathway as the response could be fully inhibited by pertussis toxin. These data suggest that antibody-induced clustering of Thy-1 stimulates neurite outgrowth by activating a second messenger pathway that has previously been shown to underlie cell adhesion molecule (NCAM, N-cadherin, and L1), but not integrin or NGF-dependent neurite outgrowth.

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