Scatter factor (SF) is an angiogenic growth factor that stimulates motility and invasion of carcinoma cells. SF is present in the extracellular matrix (ECM) of breast cancers, where it might act to promote tumor cell invasion and angiogenesis. To investigate how SF is incorporated into the ECM, we studied the binding of SF to various ECM components using a solid-phase binding assay based on the SF enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. We found that SF binds to a variety of ECM molecules, with different binding capacities. The highest SF binding capacities were observed for thrombospondin-1 (TSP-1), fibronectin (Fn), and heparan sulfate proteoglycan, although SF did not bind to albumin. Mature two-chain SF and precursor single-chain SF bound approximately equally well to TSP-1 and Fn. Moreover, two SF alpha-chain peptides (NK1 and NK2) both bound to TSP-1 and Fn, suggesting that the whole SF molecule is not required for binding. Based on binding competition assays, TSP-1 exhibited higher affinity for SF than did nine other ECM molecules, including Fn and heparan sulfate proteoglycan. Although heparin in solution potently inhibited the binding of SF to TSP-1-coated surfaces, even very high concentrations of heparin could not elute SF already bound to TSP-1. SF binding was modulated by binding interactions among ECM molecules (TSP-1-Fn, TSP-1-collagen I, and Fn-collagen I), suggesting that the matrix capacity to bind SF depends upon its exact composition. SF bound in a dose-dependent fashion to ECMs secreted by three human breast carcinoma cell lines. Binding of SF to matrices from all three cell lines was significantly inhibited by preincubation of the matrices with antibodies against TSP-1, whereas antibodies against several other ECM components were less effective or ineffective in inhibiting SF binding. In addition, TSP-1 markedly inhibited chemotaxis of microvascular endothelial cells toward SF and SF-induced angiogenesis in the rat cornea neovascularization assay. Our findings suggest that 1) SF interacts with a variety of ECM components, 2) high affinity SF-TSP-1 interactions may mediate the binding of SF to the breast cancer matrix, and 3) the SF-TSP-1 interaction may contribute to modulation of angiogenesis. Possible implications of these findings for tumor angiogenesis are discussed.
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