Cell adhesion to the extracellular matrix is important in many biological processes. Various ligands and cell surface receptors have been defined. In vitro cell adhesion to matrix proteins and to other 'adhesion' proteins is generally measured on plastic culture substrates. We have found that the presence of low levels of adhesion proteins, e.g. fibronectin, together with high concentrations of non-adhesion proteins, e.g. osteonectin, can promote cell attachment on plastic culture dishes. This promotion of adhesion occurs even when the concentrations of fibronectin, collagen and other adhesive proteins are too low to support cell attachment alone. Other non-adhesive proteins that have similar activity in 'triggering' the attachment of cells to low levels of adhesion molecules include bovine serum albumin (BSA) and cytochrome C. The non-adhesive protein must be added to the plate first, or together with the low amount of the adhesion protein, to 'activate' cell attachment. Adding the adhesion protein fibronectin to the plate first, followed by osteonectin, resulted in no 'activation' of attachment. The non-adhesive protein did not bind to the adhesive protein nor did it alter the level of adhesive protein binding to the substrate. The non-adhesive protein did, however, expose integrin-binding sites of the adhesive protein fibronectin. These data confirm and extend previous data by others demonstrating the role of non-adhesive proteins in regulating the conformation and cell adhesive activity of matrix adhesion proteins on plastic surfaces. Such findings might explain contradictions in the literature about the activity of 'adhesive proteins'.
- Cell adhesion