We have used monolayers of parental 3T3 cells and 3T3 cells expressing one of three transfected cell adhesion molecules (CAMs) (NCAM, N-cadherin, and L1) as a culture substrate for rat cerebellar neurons. A number of tyrosine kinase inhibitors have been tested for their ability to inhibit neurite outgrowth over parental 3T3 monolayers which we show to be partly dependent on neuronal integrin receptor function, as compared with neurite outgrowth stimulated by the above three CAMs. Whereas genistein (100 microM), lavendustin A (20 microM), and tyrphostins 34 and 47 (both at 150 microM) had no effect on integrin dependent or CAM stimulated neurite outgrowth, the erbstatin analogue (10-15 micrograms/ml) and tyrphostins 23 and 25 (both at 150 microM) specifically inhibited the response stimulated by all three CAMs. CAM stimulated neurite outgrowth can be accounted for by a G-protein-dependent activation of neuronal calcium channels; experiments with agents that directly activate this pathway localized the erbstatin analogue site of action upstream of the G-protein and calcium channels, whereas tyrphostins have sites of action downstream from calcium channel activation. These data suggest that activation of an erbstatin sensitive tyrosine kinase is an important step upstream of calcium channel activation in the second messenger pathway underlying the neurite outgrowth response stimulated by a variety of CAMs, and that this kinase is not required for integrin-dependent neurite outgrowth.

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