The kinetics of cell attachment and cell spreading on the coated surfaces of two classes of carbohydrate-reactive proteins, enzymes and lectins, have been compared with those on fibronectin-coated surfaces with the following results: (a) A remarkable similarity between the kinetics of cell attachment to fibronectin-coated and glycosidase-coated surfaces was found. In contrast, cell attachment kinetics induced by lectin- and galactose oxidase-coated surfaces, in general, were strikingly different from those on fibronectin and glycosidase surfaces. The distinction between fibronectin- or glycosidase- and lectin- or galactose oxidase (an enzyme with lectin-type characteristics)-coated surfaces was further supported by the finding that cytochalasin B and EDTA inhibited cell attachment to fibronectin- and glycosidase-coated surfaces but not lectin-coated surfaces. (b) Fibronectin, if labeled and added to a cell suspension, showed only low or negligible interaction with the cell surface. However, fibronectin absorbed on plastic surfaces showed a high cell-attaching activity. It is assumed that fibronectin coated on plastic surfaces may form polyvalent attachment sites in contrast to its lower valency in aqueous solution. (c) Various inhibitors of cell attachment to both fibronectin-, galactose oxidase-, and lectin-coated surfaces were effective only during the first few minutes of the adhesion assay, after which time the attached cells became insensitive to the inhibitors. It is suggested that the initial specific recognition on either lectin-type or fibronectin-type surfaces is followed by an active cell-dependent attachment process. The primary role of the adhesion surface is to stimulate the cell-dependent attachment response. (d) Cells attached on tetravalent concanavalin A (Con A) spread very rapidly and quantitatively, whereas divalent succinyl Con A and monovalent Con A were effective stimulators of cell attachment but not cell spreading. Cross-linking of succinyl Con A restored the cell spreading activity. Tetravalent Con A surfaces specifically bind soluble glycoproteins, whereas succinyl Con A has a greatly reduced ability to bind the same glycoproteins. These results suggest that cross-linking of cell surface glycoproteins by the multivalent adhesive surface may trigger the cellular reaction leading to cell spreading.

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