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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000 Mar 28;97(7):3690-5.

Antagonists of alcohol inhibition of cell adhesion.

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Neurology Service, Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System, West Roxbury, MA 02132, USA.


Increasing evidence suggests that alcohols act within specific binding pockets of selective neural proteins; however, antagonists at these sites have not been identified. 1-Alcohols from methanol through 1-butanol inhibit with increasing potency the cell-cell adhesion mediated by the immunoglobulin cell adhesion molecule L1. An abrupt cutoff exists after 1-butanol, with 1-pentanol and higher 1-alcohols showing no effect. Here, we demonstrate surprisingly strict structural requirements for alcohol inhibition of cell-cell adhesion in L1-transfected NIH 3T3 fibroblasts and in NG108-15 neuroblastoma x glioma hybrid cells treated with BMP-7, an inducer of L1 and neural cell adhesion molecule. The target site discriminates the tertiary structure of straight-chain and branched-chain alcohols and appears to comprise both a hydrophobic binding site and an adjacent hydrophilic allosteric site. Modifications to the 2- and 3-carbon positions of 1-butanol increased potency, whereas modifications that restrict movement about the 4-carbon abolished activity. The effects of ethanol and 1-butanol on cell-cell adhesion were antagonized by 1-pentanol (IC(50) = 715 microM) and 1-octanol (IC(50) = 3.6 microM). Antagonism by 1-octanol was complete, reversible, and noncompetitive. 1-Octanol also antagonized ethanol inhibition of BMP-7 morphogenesis in NG108-15 cells. 1-Octanol and related compounds may prove useful in dissecting the role of altered cell adhesion in ethanol-induced injury of the nervous system.

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