CS-1 melanoma cells transfected with cDNAs encoding either the beta 3 or beta 5 integrin subunit protein express alpha v beta 3 or alpha v beta 5, respectively, enabling them to adhere to vitronectin yet only alpha v beta 3 promotes cell spreading and migration on this substrate. Following exposure to insulin or insulin-like growth factor, alpha v beta 5-expressing CS-1 cells gain the ability to migrate on vitronectin. To identify structural regions in beta 3 or beta 5 that account for these distinct biological properties, CS-1 cells were transfected with one of two chimeric beta subunit proteins, in which the ecto- and cytoplasmic domains of beta 3 and beta 5 were exchanged (termed alpha v beta 3/5 or alpha v beta 5/3). Surprisingly, alpha v beta 3/5 expressing cells spread and migrate on vitronectin while cells expressing alpha v beta 5/3 do not unless they are exposed to cytokine. These findings suggest that the distinct migratory properties mediated by integrins alpha v beta 3 and alpha v beta 5 and their response to cytokine activation is determined by a sequence(s) within the ectodomain of the integrin beta subunit.
Experimental data in this study demonstrate that integrin alpha v beta 3 is fundamentally involved in the maturation of blood vessels during embryonic neovascularization (vasculogenesis). Integrin alpha v beta 3 was specifically expressed on the surface of angioblasts during vessel development in quail embryos and vitronectin, a ligand for alpha v beta 3, localized to the basal surface of these cells. More importantly, microinjection of the anti-alpha v beta 3 monoclonal antibody, LM609, disrupted the normal pattern of vascular development. After exposure to LM609 the angioblasts in experimental embryos appeared as clusters of rounded cells lacking normal cellular protrusions. This led to disruption of lumen formation and abnormal vessel patterning. These findings demonstrate that during vasculogenesis ligation of integrin alpha v beta 3 on the surface of primordial endothelial cells is critical for the differentiation and maturation of blood vessels. Similar studies on chicken chorioallantoic membrane showed that LM609 blocks angiogenesis. Together the two studies suggest that integrin alpha v beta 3 plays a role in neovascularization of tissues.
Expression of the vitronectin gene was detected in advanced human astrocytoma by in situ hybridization, whereas vitronectin mRNA was undetectable in low grade tumors or in normal adult brain, indicating that vitronectin is a marker of malignant astrocytoma. We established a model of human astrocytoma by transplanting U-251MG human astrocytoma cells intracerebrally into acid mice (C.B.17 severe combined immunodeficient mice). In this model, tumors progressed rapidly and vitronectin mRNA was preferentially detected at the invading tumor margins, i.e. where tumor cells were adjacent to the normal brain tissue. Surprisingly, when U-251MG cells were injected subcutaneously into scid mice, vitronectin mRNA was undetectable throughout the tumor. Moreover, vitronectin mRNA or protein could not be detected among these cells in culture under a wide variety of growth conditions. These findings demonstrate that the cerebral microenvironment influences the expression of the vitronectin gene in malignant astrocytoma. Importantly, the vitronectin binding integrins alpha v beta 3 and alpha v beta 5 localized to distinct sites within these tumors, with beta 3 mRNA synthesized among invading cells, and alpha v and beta 5 mRNAs detected throughout the tumor. In vitro, both of these receptors were capable of promoting adhesion and invasion of astrocytoma cells on a vitronectin substratum. These findings implicate the expression of the vitronectin gene as a contributing factor to the biological behavior of astrocytomas within the cerebral microenvironment.