A single chain glycoprotein with an estimated molecular mass of 160 kD (gp160) was previously identified as a human lung tumor-associated antigen. This tumor marker is shown here to be associated noncovalently with a second 130-kD protein. Sequential immunoprecipitation studies of surface iodinated lung tumor cell lysates reveal that this heterodimeric complex is indistinguishable serologically and structurally from the integrin VLA-2, found originally on activated T lymphocytes and platelets. The VLA-2-like complex expressed on the lung tumors possesses similar characteristic Mg2+ dependent binding of collagen and laminin as observed with VLA-2 on normal cells. RNA analysis indicates that human lung tumors express at least 20 times more VLA-2 alpha chain message than normal adult human lung tissue. The results presented here raise the possibility that the overproduction of VLA-2 may be involved in the pathogenesis of human lung tumors by modulating the invasive and metastatic potential of the tumor.

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