Neff et al. (1982, J. Cell Biol., 95:654-666) have described a monoclonal antibody, CSAT, directed against a cell surface antigen that participates in the adhesion of skeletal muscle to extracellular matrices. We used the same antibody to compare and parse the determinants of adhesion and morphology on myogenic and fibrogenic cells. We report here that the antigen is present on skeletal and cardiac muscle and on tendon, skeletal, dermal, and cardiac fibroblasts; however, its contribution to their morphology and adhesion is different. The antibody produces large alterations in the morphology and adhesion of skeletal myoblasts and tendon fibroblasts; in contrast, its effects on the cardiac fibroblasts are not readily detected. The effects of CSAT on the other cell types, i.e., dermal and skeletal fibroblasts, cardiac muscle, 5-bromodeoxyuridine-treated skeletal muscle, lie between these extremes. The effects of CSAT on the skeletal myoblasts depends on the calcium concentration in the growth medium and on the culture age. We interpret these differential responses to CSAT as revealing differences in the adhesion of the various cells to extracellular matrices. This interpretation is supported by parallel studies using quantitative assays of cell-matrix adhesion. The likely origin of these adhesive differences is the progressive display of different kinds of adhesion-related molecules and their organizational complexes on increasingly adhesive cells. The antigen to which CSAT is directed is present on all of the above cells and thus appears to be a lowest common denominator of their adhesion to extracellular matrices.

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