Adhesion has been evaluated for tumor cell populations derived from Kirsten murine sarcoma virus (KiMSV)-transformed BALB/c 3T3 cells responding to substrata coated with intact plasma fibronectin (pFN), a family of related proteolytic fragments from pFN or cellular fibronectins (FNs), and the heparan sulfate-binding platelet factor-4 (PF4). Both early-passage KiMSV cells, harboring the viral Kirsten ras oncogene (v-Ki-ras+), and late-passage KiMSV cells, in which most cells have lost the oncogene (v-Ki-ras), are compared with primary tumor and lung metastatic tumor cells after three routes of injection into nude mice; nontumorigenic v-Ki-ras revertant cells have been cloned from the late-passage KiMSV population. Attachment of early-passage KiMSV, primary tumor, and lung metastatic tumor cells was optimal and resistant to soluble RGDS peptide in the medium on intact pFN, on fragment F-155 from pFN containing the RGDS cell-binding domain and the heparinII domain, and on PF4 but decreased for metastatic cells on F110 containing only the RGDS domain (and sensitive to RGDS peptide). Cytoplasmic spreading of early-passage KiMSV and all tumor cells was good to excellent in polygonal patterns on pFN and on F155, while most cells remained round on F110. Responses for KiMSV and tumor cells varied on different heparin-binding proteins; cells remained rounded or detached on F38 derived from pFN or on PF4 but spread effectively with long linear process extension on cellular FN-derived fragments F44+47 harboring the extra domaina sequence. That F44+47 may contain a new cell-binding site for v-Ki-ras+ cells was also indicated by resistance to bacterial heparitanase in cell responses on F44+47 but not on PF4 and extensive catabolism of proteoglycans in the substratum-attached material of these cells. v-Ki-ras revertant cells, nontumorigenic in nude mice, have reacquired 3T3-like responses to proteolytic fragments, including much more effective spreading on PF4 or on F38 substrata, and have reverted in generating microfilament stress fibers on pFN, a competence lacking in all v-Ki-ras+ cells. These results indicate that (a) v-Ki-ras+ primary and metastatic tumor cells respond similarly to most proteolytic fragments of FNs harboring known binding domains, with a few exceptions; (b) v-Ki-ras gene expression correlates with a new cell surface receptor activity recognized by extra domaina-containing fragments from cellular FNs; and (c) loss of the viral oncogene to generate v-Ki-ras revertant cells reverts their FN-mediated adhesion responses.

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Supported by NIH Research Grant CA 27755 (L. A. C.) and the Italian Research Council ‘Progretto Finalizzato Oncologia’ (L. Z.). Case Western Reserve University is a comprehensive cancer center supported by USPHS Grant P30CA43703, awarded by the National Cancer Instiute, Department of Health and Human Services.

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