A comparison of fibronectin, laminin, and galactosyltransferase adhesion mechanisms during embryonic cardiac mesenchymal cell migration in vitro

Cleo P. Loeber, Raymond B. Runyan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Embryonic hearts contain a homogeneous population of mesenchymal cells which migrate through an extensive extracellular matrix (ECM) to become the earliest progenitors of the cardiac valves. Since these cells normally migrate through an ECM containing several adhesion substrates, this study was undertaken to examine and compare three ECM binding mechanisms for mesenchymal cell migration in an in vitro model. Receptor mechanisms for the ECM glycoproteins fibronectin (FN) and laminin (LM) and the cell surface receptor galactosyltransferase (GalTase), which binds an uncharacterized ECM substrate, were compared. Primary cardiac explants from stage 17 chick embryos were cultured on three-dimensional collagen gels. Mesenchymal cell outgrowth was recorded every 24 hr and is reported as a percentage of control. Migration was perturbed using specific inhibitors for each of the three receptor mechanisms. These included the hexapeptide GRGDSP (300-1000 μg/ml), which mimics a cell binding domain of FN, the pentapeptide YIGSR (300-1000 μg/ml), which mimics a binding domain of LM, and α-lactalbumin (1-10 mg/ml), a protein modifier of GalTase activity. The functional role of these adhesion mechanisms was further tested using antibodies to avian integrin (JG22) and avian GalTase. While the FN-related peptide had no significant effect on cell migration it did produce a rounded cellular morphology. The LN-related peptide inhibited mesenchymal migration 70% and α-lactalbumin inhibited cell migration 50%. Antibodies agasinst integrin and GalTase inhibited mesenchymal cell migration by 80 and 50%, respectively. The substrate for GalTase was demonstrated to be a single high molecular weight substrate which was not LM or FN. Control peptides, proteins and antibodies demonstrated the specificity of these effects. These data demonstrate that multiple adhesion mechanisms, including cell surface GalTase, are potentially functional during cardiac mesenchymal cell migration. The sensitivity of cell migration to the various inhibitors suggests that occupancy of specific ECM receptors can modulate the activity of other, unrelated, ECM adhesion mechanisms utilized by these cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)401-412
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopmental biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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