β-Amyloid accumulates as extracellular aggregates in Alzheimer's-afflicted brain tissue, but it also is secreted by healthy tissue, for reasons not yet established. One possibility is that β-amyloid, which contains a sequence (RHDS) homologous to the cell-binding domain of fibronectin, may modulate integrin function, a possibility supported by previous data from non-neuronal cells (Ghiso et al., Biochem. J., 288 (1992) 1053-1059). The current work shows that functional interaction with β-amyloid peptides is also supported by integrins in neuronal cells. Experiments used the SH-SY5Y human neuroblastoma cell line, which was shown to contain integrins that mediated cell adhesion to substratum-bound fibronectin. Adhesion to fibronectin was partially blocked by synthetic β-amyloid peptides containing the RHDS sequence. β-Amyloid sequences adsorbed to substratum themselves were found to mediate cell adhesion, although less effectively than fibronectin. Anti-integrin blocked the peptide-mediated adhesion, at doses commensurate with those blocking fibronectin-mediated adhesion. The data support the hypothesis that β-amyloid peptides could physiologically, and perhaps pathogenically, modulate the activity of neuronal integrins, important cell surface receptors known to control protein kinase activities, Ca2+ levels, gene expression and organization of the cytoskeleton.
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