Footpad adhesion sites pinch off from the rest of the cell surface during EGTA-mediated detachment of normal or virus-transformed murine cells from their tissue culture substrates. In these studies, highly purified trypsin and testicullar hyaluronidase were used to investigate the selective destruction or solubilization of proteins and polysaccharides in this substrate-attached material (SAM). Trypsin-mediated detachment of cells or trypsinization of SAM after EGTA-mediated detachment of cells resulted in the following changes in SAM composition: (a) solubilization of 50-70% of the glycosaminoglycan polysaccharide with loss of only a small fraction of the protein, (b) selective loss of one species of glycosaminoglycan-associated protein in longterm radiolabeled preparations, (c) no selective loss of the LETS glycoprotein or cytoskeletal proteins in longterm radiolabeled preparations, and (d) selective loss of one species of glycosaminoglycan-associated protein, a protion of the LETS glycoprotein, and proteins Cd (mol wt 47,000 and Ce' (mol wt 39,000) in short term radiolabeled preparations. Digestion of SAM with testicular hyaluronidase resulted in: (a) almost complete solubilization of the hyaluronate and chondroitin sulfate moieties from long term radiolabeled SAM with minimal loss of heparan sulfate, (b) solubilization of a small portion of the LETS glycoprotein and the cytoskeletal proteins from longterm radiolabeled SAM, (c) resistance to solubilization of protein and polysaccharide in reattaching cell SAM which contains principally heparan sulfate, and (d) complete solubilization of the LETS glycoprotein in short term radiolabeled preparations with no loss of cytoskeletal proteins. Thus, there appear to be two distinct pools of LETS in SAM, one associated in some unknown fashion with hyaluronate-chondroitin sulfate complexes, and a second associated with some other component in SAM, perhaps heparan sulfate. These data, together with other results, suggest that the cell-substrate adhesion process may be mediated principally by a heparan sulfate--LETS complex and that hyaluronate-chondroitin sulfate complexes may be important in the detachability of cells from the serum-coated substrate by destabilizing LETS matrices at posterior footpad adhesion sites.

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