Macrophage stimulating protein-induced epithelial cell adhesion is mediated by a PI3-K-dependent, but FAK-independent mechanism.
Macrophage stimulating protein (MSP) is a growth and motility factor that mediates its activity via the RON/STK receptor tyrosine kinase. MSP promotes integrin-dependent epithelial cell migration, which suggests that MSP may regulate integrin receptor functions. Integrins are cell surface receptors for extracellular matrix. Epithelial cell adhesion and motility are mediated by integrins. We studied the enhancement by MSP of cell adhesion and the molecular mechanisms mediating this effect. MSP decreased the time required for adhesion of 293 and RE7 epithelial cells to substrates coated with collagen or fibronectin. Prevention of adhesion by an RGD-containing peptide showed that the cell-substrate interaction was mediated by integrins. Wortmannin, an inhibitor of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3-K), blocked MSP-dependent adhesion, which shows that PI3-K is in the MSP-induced adhesion pathway. MSP also affected focal adhesion kinase (FAK) which is important for some types of cell adhesion and motility. Although MSP caused PI3-K-independent tyrosine phosphorylation and activation of FAK, experiments with dominant-negative FAK constructs showed that FAK does not mediate the effects of MSP on cell adhesion or motility. Thus PI3-K, but not FAK, mediates MSP-induced integrin-dependent adhesion of epithelial cells. Also, we found ligand-independent association between RON and beta1 integrin, which is additional evidence for a relationship between these two receptor systems.