We report that dermatopontin (DP), an abundant dermal extracellular matrix protein, is found in the fibrin clot and in the wound fluid, which comprise the provisional matrix at the initial stage of wound healing. DP was also found in the serum but at a lower concentration than that in wound fluid. DP co-localized with both fibrin and fibronectin on fibrin fibers and interacted with both proteins. Both normal fibroblast and HT1080 cell adhesion to the fibrin-fibronectin matrix were dose-dependently enhanced by DP, and the adhesion was mediated by α5β1 integrin. The cytoskeleton was more organized in the cells that adhered to the fibrin-fibronectin-DP complex. When incubated with DP, fibronectin formed an insoluble complex of fibronectin fibrils as visualized by electron microscopy. The interacting sites of fibronectin with DP were the first, thirteenth, and fourteenth type III repeats (III1, III13, and III14), with III13 and III14 assumed to be the major sites. The interaction between III2–3 and III12–14 was inhibited by DP, whereas the interaction between I1–5 and III12–14 was specifically and strongly enhanced by DP. Because the interaction between III2–3 and III12–14 is involved in forming a globular conformation of fibronectin, and that between I1–5 and III12–14 is required for forming fibronectin fibrils, DP promotes fibronectin fibril formation probably by changing the fibronectin conformation. These results suggest that DP has an accelerating role in fibroblast cell adhesion to the provisional matrix in the initial stage of wound healing
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