Certain inflammatory cytokines and growth factors have been previously shown to interact with glycosaminoglycan moieties of the extracellular matrix (ECM). We have examined the association of the pleiotropic cytokine TNF-alpha with glycoprotein constituents of ECM. TNF-alpha interacted with fibronectin (FN) and laminin, and to a lesser degree with collagen. The major binding site for TNF-alpha on FN was localized to its 30-kDa N-terminal fragment (FN-N') with a Ki in the sub-nM range. The binding of 125I-labeled TNF-alpha to immobilized FN or FN-N' persisted for at least 24 h, and was specifically inhibited by antibodies to FN, mAb directed against the FN-N' domain, unlabeled TNF-alpha, and by the truncated forms of TNF-alpha receptors. Once bound to immobilized FN or FN-N', the cytokine could not be released by the soluble TNF-alpha-receptors, although it could be released by anti-TNF-alpha Ab. TNF-alpha was also found to interact with soluble FN, although with a lower affinity. Similar to the soluble cytokine, the FN-bound TNF-alpha appears to be functional; it augmented the beta 1-integrin-mediated adhesiveness of activated CD4+ human T cells to the glycoprotein. Hence, binding of TNF-alpha to immobilized FN, which modifies its functional accessibility to soluble TNF-alpha receptors, does not abolish but rather may locally restrict its activity. This study suggests that a major ECM glycoprotein can present, in a restricted manner, a functional adhesion-modulating cytokine to immune cells, and that ECM glycoproteins may regulate their intrinsic cell-adhesive properties by associating with cytokines.

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