Effects of plant lectins on the adhesive properties of baby hamster kidney cells

N. Oppenheimer-Marks, F. Grinnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


We studied the effects of different lectins on the adhesive properties of baby hamster kidney (BHK) cells. The purpose of these studies was to learn more about the cell surface receptors involved in cell adhesion. Three adhesive phenomena were analyzed: 1) the adhesion of BHK cells to lectin-coated substrata; 2) the effects of lectins on the adhesion of cells to substrata coated by plasma fibronectin (pFN); and 3) the effects of lectins on the binding of pFN-coated beads to cells. Initial experiments with fluorescein-conjugated lectins indicated that concanavalin A (Con A), ricinus communis agglutinin I (RCA I), and wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) bound to BHK cells but peanut agglutinin (PNA), soybean agglutinin (SBA), and ulex europaeus agglutinin I (UEA I) did not bind. All three of the lectins which bound to the cells promoted cell spreading on lectin substrata, and the morphology of the spread cells was similar to that observed with cells spread on pFN substrata. Protease treatment of the cells, however, was found to inhibit cell spreading on pFN substrata or on WGA substrata more than on Con A substrata or RCA I substrata. In the experiments on cell adhesion to pFN substrata, prior treatment of cells with Con A or WGA inhibited cell spreading on pFN substrata, but RCA I treatment had no effect. Finally, treatment of cells with WGA inhibited binding to cells of pFN beads, but neither Con A nor RCA I affected this interaction. These results indicate that the lectins modify cellular adhesion in different ways, probably by interacting with different surface receptors. The possibility that the pFN receptor is a WGA receptor is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)286-294
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Cell Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1981

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology
  • Cell Biology


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