In this report we have studied the mechanism of human B lymphocyte adhesion to fibronectin and to proteolytic fragments of this protein. B cells adhered to fibronectin and to a 38-kDa fragment, derived from the A chain, containing the Hep II domain and most of the type III connecting segment, IIICS, of fibronectin. Cells did not bind to an 80-kDa fragment containing the RGD adhesive sequence of fibronectin. Attachment to fibronectin or to the 38-kDa fragment was not affected by the 80-kDa fragment, the GRGDSPC synthetic peptide, or by a mAb specific for the alpha chain of the RGD-dependent fibronectin receptor, alpha 5 beta 1. However, B cell adhesion to fibronectin was inhibited by the synthetic peptides CS-1, comprising the first 25 amino acids of IIICS and B12, containing the sequence LHGPEILDVPST of CS-1 (residues 14-25). Moreover, this sequence was shown to be sufficient to induce stable cell adhesion when coated on plastic surfaces. A mAb specific for the alpha-subunit of the alpha 4 beta 1 integrin, completely inhibited B cell attachment to B12, CS-1, 38 kDa, and fibronectin coated substrata. These data clearly indicate that adhesion of B lymphocytes to fibronectin is exclusively mediated by the interaction of alpha 4 beta 1 with residues 14-25 of the IIICS region in fibronectin. Therefore this interaction constitutes an alternative pathway of adhesion to fibronectin, independent of RGD and alpha 5 beta 1.

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