The expression of alphavbeta6 fibronectin/tenascin receptor integrin is induced in malignant transformation of oral epithelium. In this study, we demonstrate the contribution of alphavbeta6 as well as other fibronectin receptor integrins in squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) cell adhesion and migration. Of 11 SCC cell lines isolated from the head and neck area, 8 (73%) expressed alphavbeta6 integrin on the cell surface. Three cell lines were chosen for further functional experiments: 1 with relatively high, 1 with moderate, and 1 with minimal surface expression of alphavbeta6 integrin. In addition to alphavbeta6, all 3 cell lines expressed alpha5beta1 and alphavbeta1 fibronectin receptor integrins. Function-blocking experiments with inhibitory anti-integrin antibodies showed that all these three integrins were functional in SCC cell spreading on fibronectin. Integrin alphavbeta6, however, was not used as a primary but as an alternative fibronectin receptor by SCC cells, as the inhibitory anti-beta6 integrin antibody alone had no effect on spreading. In migration, however, alphavbeta6, alpha5beta1, and alphavbeta1 integrins were all used in cooperation. The presence of alphavbeta1 integrin in SCC cells is a novel finding as is its contribution to SCC cell migration. When one or two of these three receptors were blocked, the cells demonstrated an adaptive ability to remain migratory using integrins that were not targeted by antibodies. Utilization of a combination of receptors of different affinities may be beneficial for SCC cell migration versatility.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.