Lysophosphatidic acid is a product of activated platelets and has diverse actions on cells. We have characterized the effect of lysophosphatidic acid on cell-mediated binding and assembly of fibronectin, an extracellular matrix protein. Serum made from whole blood, but neither platelet-poor plasma nor serum made from platelet-poor plasma, caused enhanced binding of fibronectin to cultured fibroblastic cells. The ability of whole blood serum to enhance binding of fibronectin was abolished by phospholipase B. These results indicate that lysophosphatidic acid derived from platelets is the principal component in whole blood serum that is active in the fibronectin binding assay. 1-oleoyl lysophosphatidic acid, 20-200 nM, was as active as 0.1-0.2% whole blood serum. The stimulatory effect of lysophosphatidic acid on the binding of fibronectin or the amino-terminal 70-kD fragment of fibronectin was rapid, sustained, and lost upon removal of lysophosphatidic acid. The stimulatory effect on binding could not be duplicated by bradykinin, platelet-activating factor, bombesin, or a peptide agonist of the thrombin receptor. Enhanced binding of the 70-kD fragment was due to increases in both the number and affinity of binding sites. Enhanced binding and assembly of fibronectin correlated with changes in cell shape and actin-containing cytoskeleton. The binding sites for fibronectin on lysophosphatidic acid-stimulated cells, as assessed by fluorescence, video, and scanning electron microscopy, were on areas of cell membrane containing numerous filopodia that extended between cells or between cells and substratum. These observations suggest that lysophosphatidic acid functions as a powerful and specific modulator of cell shape and early matrix assembly during wound healing.

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