Microvascular endothelial cells (MEC) use a set of surface receptors to adhere not only to the vascular basement membrane but, during angiogenic stimulation, to the interstitium. We examined how cultured human MEC interact with laminin-rich basement membranes. By using a panel of monoclonal antibodies, we found that MEC cells express a number of integrin-related receptor complexes, including alpha 1 beta 1, alpha 2 beta 1, alpha 3 beta 1, alpha 5 beta 1, alpha 6 beta 1, alpha V beta 3. Attachment to laminin, a major adhesive protein in basement membranes, was studied in detail. Blocking monoclonal antibodies specific to different integrin receptor complexes showed that the alpha 6 beta 1 complex was important for MEC adhesion to laminin. In addition, blocking antibody also implicated the vitronectin receptor (alpha V beta 3) in laminin adhesion. We used ligand affinity chromatography of detergent-solubilized receptor complexes to further define receptor specificity. On laminin-Sepharose columns, we identified several integrin receptor complexes whose affinity for the ligand was dependent on the type of divalent cation present. Several beta 1 complexes, including alpha 1 beta 1, alpha 2 beta 1, and alpha 6 beta 1 bound strongly to laminin. In agreement with the antibody blocking experiments, alpha V beta 3 was found to bind well to laminin. However, unlike binding to its other ligands (e.g., vitronectin, fibrinogen, von Willebrand factor), alpha V beta 3 interaction with laminin did not appear to be Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD) sensitive. Finally, immunofluorescent staining demonstrated both beta 1 and beta 3 complexes in vinculin-positive focal adhesion plaques on the basal surface of MEC adhering to laminin-coated substrates. The results indicate that both these subfamilies of integrin heterodimers are involved in promoting MEC adhesion to laminin and the vascular basement membrane.
The production of a basal lamina by microvascular endothelial cells (MEC) cultured on various substrata was examined. MEC were isolated from human dermis and plated on plastic dishes coated with fibronectin, or cell-free extracellular matrices elaborated by fibroblasts, smooth muscle cells, corneal endothelial cells, or PF HR9 endodermal cells. Examination of cultures by electron microscopy at selected intervals after plating revealed that on most substrates the MEC produced an extracellular matrix at the basal surface that was discontinuous, multilayered, and polymorphous. Immunocytochemical studies demonstrated that the MEC synthesize and deposit both type IV collagen and laminin into the subendothelial matrix. When cultured on matrices produced by the PF HR9 endodermal cells MEC deposit a subendothelial matrix that was present as a uniform sheet which usually exhibited lamina rara- and lamina densa-like regions. The results indicate that under the appropriate conditions, human MEC elaborate a basal lamina-like matrix that is ultrastructurally similar to basal lamina formed in vivo, which suggests that this experimental system may be a useful model for studies of basal lamina formation and metabolism.