The temporal relationship between butyrate-induced cellular flattening of murine sarcoma virus-transformed rat cells (MSV-NRK) and alterations in certain surface-associated biochemical markers of transformation, e.g., surface glycopeptides, glycolipids, fibronectin, hexose uptake, and cell-substrate adhesion was examined. The induction of elevated levels of the ganglioside GM3 and of a GDla-like ganglioside were observed to precede or to parallel cellular flattening. Likewise, enhanced incorporation of radioisotopically labeled fucose into a novel fucose-containing component, i.e., glucopyranosyl (1 leads to 3) fucopyranosyl-threonine, was also observed to occur at an early stage of cellular flattening. In contrast, a shift in the molecular weight distribution of trypsin-sensitive, surface fucopeptides was observed to occur at a late stage of cellular flattening. Moreover, surface fibronectin was not detectable in the butyrate-flattened MSV-NRK cells despite the fact that the cells manifested significantly enhanced cell-substrate adhesion. Thus, butyrate appears to be a useful tool for understanding the sequential changes associated with expression of the transformed phenotype of MSV-NRK cells.

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