The cell-substratum interaction was studied in cultures of osteoclasts isolated from the medullary bone of laying hens kept on low calcium diet. In fully spread osteoclasts, cell-substratum adhesion mostly occurred within a continuous paramarginal area that corresponded also to the location of a thick network of intermediate filaments of the vimentin type. In this area, regular rows of short protrusions contacting the substratum and often forming a cup-shaped adhesion area were observed in the electron microscope. These short protrusions showed a core of F-actin-containing material presumably organized as a network of microfilaments and surrounded by a rosette-like structure in which vinculin and alpha-actinin were found by immunofluorescence microscopy. Rosettes were superposable to dark circles in interference-reflection microscopy and thus represented circular forms of close cell-substratum contact. The core of ventral protrusions also contained, beside F-actin, fimbrin and alpha-actinin. Villin was absent. This form of cell-substratum contact occurring at the tip of a short ventral protrusion differed from other forms of cell-substratum contact and represented an osteoclast-specific adhesion device that might also be present in in vivo osteoclasts as well as in other normal and transformed cell types.

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