MDW4, a wheat germ agglutinin-resistant nonmetastatic mutant of the highly metastatic murine tumor cell line called MDAY-D2 has previously been shown to attach to fibronectin and type IV collagen, whereas MDAY-D2 and phenotypic revertants of MDW4 attached poorly to these substrates. The increased adhesiveness of the mutant cells appeared to be closely related to a lesion in cell surface carbohydrate structures. In an effort to identify the carbohydrates involved in cell attachment, glycopeptides isolated from mutant and wild-type cells as well as from purified glycoproteins were tested for their ability to inhibit the attachment of MDW4 cells to plastic surfaces coated with fibronectin, laminin, or type IV collagen. The addition of mannose-terminating glycopeptide to the adhesion assay inhibited MDW4 cell attachment to type IV collagen. In contrast, a sialylated poly N-acetyllactosamine-containing glycopeptide, isolated from wheat germ agglutinin-sensitive MDAY-D2 cells but absent in MDW4 cells, inhibited MDW4 attachment to laminin. None of the glycopeptides used in this study inhibited attachment of MDW4 cells to fibronectin-coated plastic. Peptide N-glycosidase treatment of the cells to remove surface asparagine-linked oligosaccharides inhibited MDW4 adhesion to type IV collagen, but not to laminin, and the same treatment of the wheat germ agglutinin-sensitive cells enhanced attachment to laminin. Tumor cell attachment to, and detachment from, the sublaminal matrix protein laminin and type IV collagen are thought to be important events in the metastatic process. Our results indicate that tumor cell attachment to these proteins may be partially modulated by the expression of specific oligosaccharide structures associated with the cell surface.

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