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Cancer Res. 1993 Jan 15;53(2):378-87.

Motility of human carcinoma cells in response to thrombospondin: relationship to metastatic potential and thrombospondin structural domains.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor 48109.


The interactions of tumorigenic cells with the extracellular matrix play a critical role in the establishment of metastases. Thrombospondin (TSP) is prominent at sites of tissue injury and promotes the attachment, spreading, and motility of several cell types. We have investigated the relationship between human carcinoma cell metastatic potential and TSP-mediated cell motility by comparing highly metastatic 11B carcinoma cells with a nonmetastatic counterpart, 22B carcinoma cells. 11B cells demonstrated motility in response to soluble TSP with a maximal effect observed at 1 microM TSP. Checkerboard analysis indicated that motility was directional with a significant chemokinetic component. Monoclonal antibody C6.7, specific for the distal COOH terminus of TSP, inhibited chemotaxis by 60%. Studies with TSP fragments demonstrated that the M(r) 140,000 COOH-terminal domain (140K) supported chemotaxis to the same extent as intact TSP. The NH2-terminal heparin-binding domain was ineffective in stimulating chemotaxis. Substrate-bound TSP also elicited 11B cell motility with a maximal response at 100 nM TSP. Directionality of this response was confirmed by checkerboard analysis. Interestingly, as in chemotaxis, haptotaxis was mediated exclusively by 140K as demonstrated by TSP fragment studies and inhibition with monoclonal antibody C6.7. Therefore, 140K appeared to mediate both chemotaxis and haptotaxis. Compared with 11B cells, 22B carcinoma cells are nonmetastatic and synthesize and secrete low levels of TSP. Immunoprecipitation and Northern blot analysis confirmed that 11B cells expressed much higher levels of TSP than 22B cells. Although 22B cells are able to attach to TSP, they did not exhibit either chemotaxis or haptotaxis in response to TSP or TSP fragments. Similarly, an antisense TSP cell line responded poorly in chemotaxis assays to TSP and 140K. These data suggest that the ability of metastatic cells in vivo to establish secondary sites of proliferation may be related to their ability to migrate in response to extracellular matrix proteins such as TSP incorporated into basement membranes or interstitial matrices.

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