Modulation of fibronectin adhesive functions for fibroblasts and neural cells by chemically derivatized substrata

Kristine Lewandowska, Natarajan Balachander, Chaim N. Sukenik, Lloyd A. Culp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


Adhesion responses of fibroblasts (Balb/c 3T3 cells) and human neuron‐derived (Platt neuroblastoma) cells have been examined with plasma fibronectin (pFN) adsorbed to glass surfaces derivatizeci with an alkyl chain and six chemical end groups interfacing with the bound pFN to test regulation of pFN function. Using new derivatization protocols, the following surfaces have been tested in order of increasing polarity: [CH3], [CC], [Br], [CN], [Diol], [COOH], and underivatized glass ([SiOH]). For all substrata, pFN bound equivalently using either a supersaturating amount of pFN or a subsaturating amount in competition with bovine albumin. Attachment of both cell types was also equivalent on all substrata. However, spreading/differentiation responses varied considerably. F‐actin reorganization was tested in 3T3 cells with rhodamine‐phalloidin staining. While stress fibers formed effectively on pFN‐coated [SiOH] and [Br] substrata, only small linear bundles of F‐actin and a few thin stress fibers were observed on the [COOH], [Diol], and [CN] substrata; the hydrophobic substrata ([CH3]) and [CC] gave an intermediate response. When a synthetic peptide containing the Arg‐Gly‐Asp‐Ser sequence required for integrin binding to FNs was included in the medium as an inhibitor, additional differences were noted: Stress fiber formation was completely inhibited on [SiOH] but not on [Br] and stress fiber formation was very sensitive to inhibition on the hydrophobic substrata while the F‐actin patterns on the [CN] and [COOH] substrata were unaffected. Evaluation of neurite outgrowth by neuroblastoma cells on these substrata revealed both qualitative and quantitative differences as follows: [Diol]  [COOH] > [SiOH] ≫ [CN]  [Br] > [CH3]  [CC]. While there was poor cytoplasmic spreading and virtually no neurites formed on the hydrophobic surfaces when pFN alone was adsorbed, neurite formation could be “rescued” if a mixture of pFN with an excess of bovine albumin was adsorbed, demonstrating complex conformational interactions between substratum‐bound pFN and adhesion‐inert neighboring molecules. In summary, these studies demonstrate that different chemical end groups on the substratum modulate pFN functions for cell adhesion, principally by affecting the conformation of these molecules rather than the amounts bound. Furthermore, these studies confirm multiple‐receptor interactions with the FN molecules in cell type‐specific adhesion patterns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)334-345
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Cellular Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 1989
Externally publishedYes


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