Porcine mononuclear cells adhere to human fibronectin independently of very late antigen-5: implications for donor-specific tolerance induction in xenotransplantation


Megan Sykes MD Bone Marrow Transplantation Section, Transplantation Biology Research Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, MGH East, Building 149-5102, 13th Street, Boston, MA 02129, USA (E-mail: megan.sykes@tbrc.mgh.harvard.edu)


To combat the shortage of donor organs, transplantation across species barriers has been proposed. Induction of tolerance would overcome the substantial immunologic barriers to xenotransplantation and would avoid the chronic use of immunosuppressive agents. Successful transplantation of hematopoietic cells induces robust specific tolerance to donor antigens in allogeneic and xenogeneic models. The β1 integrin class of adhesion molecules and their interactions with extracellular matrix components are thought to be integral to the engraftment and maturation of hematopoietic stem cells. We therefore examined the efficacy of porcine very late antigen-5 (VLA-5) and VLA-4 interactions with the human extracellular matrix (ECM) protein, fibronectin. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from humans and miniature swine were flourochrome labeled and adhesion to plates coated with whole human fibronectin (whFN) or its 120 KDa fragment containing the VLA-5 binding region was determined. Flow cytometry and immuno- precipitation were used to identify a monoclonal antibody that cross-reacted on porcine VLA-5. Human and pig PBMC adhesion to human fibronectin (hFN) or 120 kDa fragment-coated plates was assessed following incubation with control ab, anti-VLA-4, anti-VLA-5, or soluble fibronectin. Using rabbit complement, cells expressing VLA-5 were purged from PBMC preparations before performing the adhesion assay. Porcine and human PBMC both adhered to hFN in a divalent cation-dependent and activation-dependent manner. Adhesion to hFN of human but not pig PBMC was blocked by anti-VLA-5 monoclonal antibody SAM-1, although this mAb immunoprecipitated a heterodimeric cell surface molecule (155/135 kDa) resembling VLA-5 from pig PBMC. Complement-mediated depletion of VLA-5-expressing cells ablated specific binding of human but not porcine cells to hFN and its 120 kDa fragment. Addition of soluble fibronectin was capable of blocking adhesion of PBMC of both species to hFN. Anti-VLA-4 reduced the binding of PBMC from both species to hFN to a similar extent. Human and pig cells can specifically adhere to hFN and its 120 kDa fragment, suggesting that this critical cell–ECM interaction is preserved across species. While human cells exclusively use VLA-5 for binding to the 120 kDa fragment, porcine cells could not be shown to adhere to whFN or its 120 kDa fragment via VLA-5. However, porcine VLA-4 is capable of mediating adhesion to human FN. We conclude that disparities in the adhesive interactions of β1 integrins may be a barrier to the use of porcine hematopoietic stem cell transplantation as a means of inducing donor-specific tolerance in the pig to human species combination.