We have described a monoclonal antibody that rounds and detaches chick skeletal myoblasts and myotubes from extracellular substrata. The antibody also inhibits the attachment of myogenic cells to a gelatin-coated substratum but has no detectable effect on myoblast fusion. The cellular response to antibody treatment varies with differentiation and cell type. Young myoblasts and myotubes are rapidly rounded and detached by the antibody. Older myotubes require longer incubation times or higher antibody titers for rounding and detachment. Chick embryo fibroblasts, cardiac cells, and neurons are not similarly rounded and remain attached. Since the antibody also detaches cells from embryonic muscle tissue explants, the cell-substratum interaction perturbed by the antibody appears relevant to the in vivo interaction of myogenic cells with their extracellular matrices. Binding studies using iodinated antibody revealed 2-4 x 10(5) sites per myoblast with an apparent Kd in the range of 2-5 x 10(-9) molar. Embryo fibroblasts bind antibody as well and display approximately twice the number of binding sites per cell. The fluorescence distribution of antigen on myoblasts and myotubes is somewhat punctate and particularly bright along the edge of the myotube. The distribution on fibroblasts was also punctate and was particularly bright along the cell periphery and portions of stress fibers. For both cell types the binding was distinctly different than that reported for collagen, fibronectin, and other extracellular molecules. The antigen, as isolated by antibody affinity chromatography, inhibits antibody-induced rounding. SDS PAGE reveals two unique polypeptides migrating in the region of approximately 120 and 160 kilodaltons (kd). The most straightforward mechanism for the antibody-induced rounding and detachment is the perturbation of a membrane molecule involved in adhesion. The hypothesized transmembrane link between extracellular macromolecules and the cytoskeleton provides an obvious candidate.

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