An antiserum prepared against purified surface membranes of transformed BHK21/C13 cells (C13/B4) reversibly rounded and detached hamster cells from plastic tissue culture plates but did not affect cells of other species. Antiserum treatment did not alter the growth rate of C13/B4 or BHK21/C13 cells; however, NIL-8 cells exposed to the antiserum detached from the substrate and stopped growing, but remained viable for up to 72 h in the presence of the antiserum. Rounding and detachment were not inhibited by DNP or cycloheximide. Antiserum-detached cells did not reattach in the presence of these inhibitors. F(ab)' fragments also induced rounding, thus ruling out the involvement of complement and ligand-induced rearrangement of surface antigens in rounding and detachment. Three different surface-reactive immunoglobulin preparations were used in indirect immunoprecipitation studies in an attempt to identify cell surface antigens involved in regulating adhesion and morphology. Antiserum against surface membranes (anti-M) and against material shed by the cells into serum-free medium (anti-SFM) caused rounding and detachment, but a third antiserum (anti-LIS) prepared against a partially purified glycoprotein did not. All three immunoglobulin preparations precipitated glycoproteins with an apparent mol wt of 120,000 daltons from a crude membrane preparation solubilized by Nonidet NP-40. The two immunoglobulin preparations that caused rounding precipitated an additional glycoprotein peak of 140,000 daltons. Extensive preabsorption of the extract with anti-LIS immunoglobulin enriched the anti-membrane and antiserum-free medium precipitates for the 140,000-dalton peak. Anti-M immunoglobulin eluted from intact cells and subsequently used to precipitate NP-40 solubilized membrane constituents also reacted with a group of glycoproteins of approximately 140,000 mol wt. Therefore, this group of glycoproteins was considered most likely to be the glycoproteins involved in substrate adhesion and maintenance of cellular morphology.

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