Human plasma fibronectin (Fn) enhances ingestion of opsonized particles through its interaction with phagocytic cells. To better characterize the site or sites on Fn responsible for this effect, we subjected Fn to limited proteolytic cleavage by chymotrypsin and used affinity and gel filtration chromatography to isolate a 110,000 dalton cell-binding fragment, a 60,000 dalton fragment that bound both heparin and gelatin, and 50,000 and 45,000 dalton fragments that bound to gelatin but not heparin. The cell-binding fragment mediated adhesion and spreading of fibroblasts on glass slides, whereas the heparin-gelatin and gelatin-binding fragments failed to cause fibroblast spreading. At high concentrations, the cell-binding fragment doubled phagocytosis of C4b-coated sheep erythrocytes by human monocyte-derived macrophages, whereas equal concentrations of the other fragments had minimal enhancing effect on phagocytosis. Interestingly, the effect of the cell-binding fragment on CR1-mediated phagocytosis was always less than the effect of intact Fn, even when a 40-fold higher molar concentration of the cell-binding fragment was used. Fab of a monoclonal anti-Fn, HFn 7.1, which recognizes the 110,000 dalton cell-binding fragment of Fn and inhibits fibroblast binding, blocked enhancement of CR1-mediated phagocytosis by intact Fn. Fab of Fn 8, a monoclonal anti-Fn that binds the heparin-gelatin-binding fragment, failed to inhibit the Fn effect. These data suggest that interaction of the macrophage with the cell-binding domain of Fn is critical for the Fn effect on CR1-mediated phagocytosis. In addition, there may be other domains of the Fn molecule that have a role in augmenting the Fn-phagocyte interaction.

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