[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To assess whether cells react differently towards a population of several laminin isoforms, as found in vivo, vs. a single isoform, we have compared the biological activity of kidney laminins to that of pure laminin 1. The kidney laminin preparation contained laminin 1 and further isoforms. Both substrates induced adhesion of a large spectrum of cell types, with kidney laminins being the most active. Unfolding of the coil-coiled conformation of the kidney isoforms negatively affected cell adhesion-promoting activity, which indicated that conformation-dependent cell binding is a characteristic feature of many or all laminins. Cellular interactions with kidney laminins were mediated by alpha3beta1 and alpha6beta1 integrins, with the contribution of alpha3beta1 being apparently lower than that of alpha6beta1 integrins. Immunofluorescence staining of vinculin and integrin subunits decorated focal adhesions on kidney laminins which differed in morphology from those formed on laminin 1 alone, in spite of the presence of the latter in the kidney preparation. These observations collectively indicate that tissue specific but often overlapping expression of laminin isoforms might modulate cell behavior by the activation of distinct sets of integrins and by the induction of distinct molecular assemblies within the cell adhesion signaling complexes.