The functions of exogenous and endogenous laminin-5 on corneal epithelial cells

Exp Eye Res. 2000 Jul;71(1):69-79. doi: 10.1006/exer.2000.0857.


Recent evidence suggests that the basement membrane not only separates basal cells from Bowman's layer, but also has a crucial role in the proliferation, differentiation and migration of corneal epithelial cells. The basement membrane is composed of a mixture of matrix components including collagens, laminins and heparan sulfate proteoglycans. In these extracellular matrixes, laminin is a major component of the basement membrane. Of 11 laminin isoformes, laminin-5 is a variant, composed of three nonidentical subunits alpha3, beta3, gamma2 and is a major component of the corneal basement membrane. However, little is known about the interactions of laminin-5 with corneal epithelial cells. In this study, we investigated the functions of laminin-5 on SV-40 transfected human corneal epithelial cells (HCE cells). We also revealed different functions between exogenous and endogenous laminin-5 on HCE cells. Laminin-5 is synthesized initially as a 490 kDa molecule that undergoes specific processing to cleavaged isoforms after being secreted. The alpha3 subunit is processed from 200-190 kDa to 160 kDa/145 kDa. The gamma2 subunit is processed from 150 kDa to 105 kDa/80 kDa. The beta3 subunit (140 kDa) is not processed. Exogenously added laminin-5 (soluble form) in this study was purified from a serum-free, conditioned medium of a human gastric carcinoma cell line STKM-I. This soluble laminin is a processed isoform containing alpha3 (160 kDa), beta3 (140 kDa) and gamma2 (105 kDa) chains. On the other hand, immunocytochemical analysis showed that HCE cells themselves secreted laminin-5 endogenously. Western blotting analysis revealed that HCE cells initially produced unprocessed isoform containing 190 kDa alpha3, 140 kDa beta3 and 150 kDa gamma2 chains and that after being secreted, the alpha3 chain was processed to 160 kDa/145 kDa and the gamma2 chain was processed to 105 kDa. Initially we investigated the functions of exogenous (processed) laminin-5 on HCE cells. Exogenously added laminin-5 strongly promoted cell adhesion via alpha3beta1 integrin, cell spreading, assembly of hemidesmosomes and mildly inhibited cell migration. Next we estimated the effect of endogenous (unprocessed) laminin-5 on HCE cells. Using an anti laminin-5 monoclonal antibody (mAb) or anti integrin alpha3beta1 mAbs, the blocking of the interaction between endogenously secreted laminin-5 and HCE cells caused strong inhibition of cell migration. Integrin alpha3beta1 and alpha6beta4 were expressed in HCE cells. These integrins are receptors of laminin-5. But, anti integrin alpha6beta4 mAbs did not have any blocking ability against cell migration. These results indicated that endogenous (unprocessed) laminin-5 has a crucial role in cell migration on HCE cells via alpha3beta1 integrin. In conclusion, structural differences between exogenous (processed) and endogenous (unprocessed) laminin-5 regulated their functions on HCE cells. Exogenously added laminin-5 strongly promoted cell adhesion, cell spreading and assembly of hemidesmosomes. Endogenously secreted laminin-5 had a crucial role in cell migration. In the future, processed soluble laminin-5 could be a useful drug for the prevention of recurrent corneal erosion, and unprocessed soluble laminin-5 could be applied for the treatment of prolonged corneal epithelial defects.

MeSH terms

  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Adhesion / physiology
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules* / pharmacology
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules* / physiology
  • Cell Movement / physiology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Desmosomes / physiology
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Epithelial Cells / physiology*
  • Epithelium, Corneal / cytology
  • Epithelium, Corneal / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Integrins / physiology


  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Integrins
  • kalinin