Multiple domains are involved in the interaction of endothelial cell thrombospondin with fibronectin


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Thrombospondin is a large multifunctional glycoprotein synthesized, secreted and incorporated into the extracellular matrix by several cell types in culture. It is also present in the blood platelet and is secreted following platelet activation. We have previously shown that thrombospondin co‐distributes with fibronectin in the extracellular matrix and that it can bind directly to purified fibronectin. In order to elucidate the chemical aspects of thrombospondin incorporation into the extracellular matrix, we studied the interaction of endothelial cell thrombospondin and fibronectin. We find that endothelial cell thrombospondin has two distinct binding domains for fibronectin. One domain is on the 70‐kDa core fragment, probably similar to that of platelet thrombospondin. The other domain is on the 27‐kDa N‐terminal fragment and is unique to endothelial cell thrombospondin. The dissociation constant of the intact endothelial‐cell‐derived molecule is 0.7 ± 0.2 × 10−7 M. Following fragmentation, the separate domains bind with somewhat lower affinity: the core domain binds with a Kd of 3.4 ± 1.5 × 10−7 M and the N‐terminal domain binds with a Kd of 8.8 ± 1.8 × 10−7 M. Binding of the intact molecule is Ca2+‐independent. By contrast, following tryptic fragmentation, binding of the 70‐kDa fragment is practically lost. It can be restored, however, by removal of Ca2+, indicating that the binding site on this domain is either sequestered or becomes so following fragmentation. Heparin, which also binds to both fragments, competed with fibronectin binding to the 27‐kDa fragment but not to the 70‐kDa domain. The fact that heparin also competitively inhibits fibronectin binding of the intact molecule further supports sequestration of the fibronectin‐binding domain on the 70‐kDa core fragment. Our data suggest that endothelial‐cell thrombospondin possesses two distinct binding sites for fibronectin, a low‐affinity constitutively available one and a high‐affinity one, possibly sequestered on the intact unbound molecule.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)581-588
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Biochemistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1989
Externally publishedYes


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