Components of the tumor cell cytoskeleton (i.e., microtubules, microfilaments, and intermediate filaments) have been reported to affect metastatic ability, since disruption of these components leads to a decrease in metastasis. One mechanism of metastasis which has not been previously considered is the decreased interaction of tumor cells with platelets. We present evidence that disruption of the tumor cell cytoskeleton decreases the ability of tumor cells to aggregate homologous platelets. This effect is dependent upon the disruption of microfilaments/intermediate filaments but not disruption of microtubules. In addition, tumor cell platelet interactions require the lateral mobility of specific receptors (i.e., clustering) on the tumor cell plasma membrane. A membrane glycoprotein immunologically related to the platelet glycoprotein IIb/IIIa complex was identified on Walker 256 carcinosarcoma cells using specific polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies and Northern blot analysis using complementary DNA probes for IIb and IIIa. Mobility of this receptor is dependent upon tumor cell microfilaments/intermediate filaments, but not microtubules. Furthermore, treatment of tumor cells with specific antibodies to the platelet glycoprotein IIb/IIIa complex inhibits tumor cell-platelet interaction at the macroscopic level (i.e., aggregation) and at the ultrastructural level (i.e., platelet adhesion to the tumor cell surface). These results suggest that this immunologically related glycoprotein IIb/IIIa is a receptor for platelet binding to the tumor cell surface, an event which precedes overt platelet aggregation and is dependent upon an intact tumor cell microfilament and intermediate filament network. Therefore, the decreased metastasis observed by others following disruption of the tumor cell cytoskeleton may be due, in part, to a decreased tumor cell-platelet interaction.


This work was supported by USPHS Grants CA-29997 and CA-47115 awarded to K. V. Honn, a grant from Harper Grace Hospitals, and the Molecular Biology Center, Wayne State University.

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