Integrin binding and cell spreading on extracellular matrix act at different points in the cell cycle to promote hepatocyte growth

Date Published:

1994 Sep


This study was undertaken to determine the importance of integrin binding and cell shape changes in the control of cell-cycle progression by extracellular matrix (ECM). Primary rat hepatocytes were cultured on ECM-coated dishes in serum-free medium with saturating amounts of growth factors (epidermal growth factor and insulin). Integrin binding and cell spreading were promoted in parallel by plating cells on dishes coated with fibronectin (FN). Integrin binding was separated from cell shape changes by culturing cells on dishes coated with a synthetic arg-gly-asp (RGD)-peptide that acts as an integrin ligand but does not support hepatocyte extension. Expression of early (junB) and late (ras) growth response genes and DNA synthesis were measured to determine whether these substrata induce G0-synchronized hepatocytes to reenter the growth cycle. Cells plated on FN exhibited transient increases in junB and ras gene expression (within 2 and 8 h after plating, respectively) and synchronous entry into S phase. Induction of junB and ras was observed over a similar time course in cells on RGD-coated dishes, however, these round cells did not enter S phase. The possibility that round cells on RGD were blocked in mid to late G1 was confirmed by the finding that when trypsinized and replated onto FN-coated dishes after 30 h of culture, they required a similar time (12-15 h) to reenter S phase as cells that had been spread and allowed to progress through G1 on FN. We have previously shown that hepatocytes remain viable and maintain high levels of liver-specific functions when cultured on these RGD-coated dishes. Thus, these results suggest that ECM acts at two different points in the cell cycle to regulate hepatocyte growth: first, by activating the G0/G1 transition via integrin binding and second, by promoting the G1/S phase transition and switching off the default differentiation program through mechanisms related to cell spreading.