Neurite outgrowth of C 1300 neuroblastoma cells, which were dispersed from adherent cultures or grown in suspension, was studied on different protein-coated surfaces. Of 29 different surface structures studied, including surfaces treated with various fibronectins, lectins, glycosidases, or glycosyltransferases capable of stimulating fibroblast spreading, only the surfaces coated with plasma fibronectin or with a protein mixture secreted by C6 glioma cells displayed an extensive activity in the sprouting assay. Neurite outgrowth was inhibited by brain gangliosides and by colominic acid (a sialic acid polymer). A 50% inhibition of neurite outgrowth of N18 neuroblasts induced by the glioma cell proteins was observed at the following approximate concentration: 100 microM (0.2 mg/ml) GD1A ganglioside, 20 microM (0.04 mg/ml) GT1B ganglioside, and 5 mg/ml colominic acid. Specificity of inhibition was suggested by the finding that a few polyanionic substances tested were not inhibitory in the sprouting assay, and that the type of gangliosides inhibiting sprouting were found to be major sialoglycolipids of the neuroblasts. A hypothesis is discussed, according to which neurite outgrowth of neuroblasts is stimulated by adhesion involving interactions of the adhesion-mediating protein with cell surface carbohydrates characteristic of brain gangliosides.

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