The fibronectin receptor, alpha 5 beta 1, has been shown to be required for fibronectin matrix assembly and plays an important role in cell migration on fibronectin. However, it is not clear whether other fibronectin binding integrins can take the place of alpha 5 beta 1 during matrix assembly and cell migration. To test this, we expressed the human alpha v subunit in the CHO cell line CHO-B2 that lacks the alpha 5 subunit. We found that the human alpha v combined with CHO cell beta 1 to form the integrin alpha v beta 1. Cells that expressed alpha v beta 1 attached to and spread well on fibronectin-coated dishes, but did so less well on vitronectin-coated dishes. This, along with other data, indicated that alpha v beta 1 functions as a fibronectin receptor in CHO-B2 cells. The alpha v beta 1-expressing cells failed to produce a fibronectin matrix or to migrate on fibronectin, although the same cells transfected with alpha 5 do produce a matrix and migrate on fibronectin. The affinity of the alpha v beta 1-expressing cells for fibronectin was fourfold lower than that of the alpha 5 beta 1-expressing cells. In addition, alpha v beta 1 was distributed diffusely throughout the cell surface, whereas alpha 5 beta 1 was localized to focal adhesions when cells were seeded onto fibronectin-coated surfaces. Thus, of the two fibronectin receptors, alpha v beta 1 and alpha 5 beta 1, only alpha 5 beta 1 supports fibronectin matrix assembly and promotes cell migration on fibronectin in the CHO-B2 cells. Possible reasons for this difference in the activities of alpha v beta 1 and alpha 5 beta 1 include the lower affinity of alpha v beta 1 for fibronectin and the failure of this integrin to localize in adhesion plaques on a fibronectin substrate. These results show that two integrins with similar ligand specificities and cell attachment functions may be quite different in their ability to support fibronectin matrix assembly and cell motility on fibronectin.

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