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It is reported that Chinese hamster ovary cells transfected with human α4 cDNA (α4CHOs) and expressing functional α4β1 integrin developed bone metasasis in nude mice. To clarify the role of α4β1 integrin in bone metastasis, in terms of tumor-mediated bone destruction, we examined whether α4CHOs stimulate osteoclast formation in cocultures with mouse bone marrow cells. The number of osteoclast-like cells identified as tartrateresistant acid phosphatase positive multinucleated cells (TRAP(+) MNCs) formed from bone marrow cells increased with the increasing number of α4CHOs cocultured. The effects of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25(OH)2D3) and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) on TRAP(+) MNC formation were enhanced in cocultures with α4CHOs. TRAP(+) MNCs induced by α4CHOs possessed calcitonin receptors and resorbed calcified tissues. In cocultures, α4CHOs and bone marrow stromal cells were in contact with each other and bone marrow stromal cells expressed vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1), which is one of the ligands for α4β1 integrin. TRAP(+) MNC formation was not stimulated in cocultures where direct contact between α4CHOs and bone marrow cells was inhibited by membrane filters.α4CHOs do not support TRAP(+) MNC formation in cocultures with spleen cells but do support TRAP(+) mononuclear cell and MNC formation from spleen cells in the presence of osteoblastic cells. Cultured media from α4CHOs, bone marrow cells, and cocultures of α4CHOs and bone marrow cells did not stimulate TRAP(+) MNC formation or enhance the effects of 1,25(OH)2D3 and PGE2 in bone marrow cultures. The concentrations of PGE2 and interleukin-6(IL-6) in cultured media were not different between the cultures of bone marrow cells and the cocultures of bone marrow cells and α4CHOs. Anti-human α4 and anti-mouse VCAM-1 antibodies inhibited TRAP(+) MNC formation induced by α4CHOs. These results indicate that α4CHOs stimulated TRAP(+) MNC formation through direct cell-to-cell interaction between α4β1 and VCAM-1. It is suggested that in addition to various soluble factors regulating osteoclast formation, cell-to-cell interaction between tumor cells and bone marrow cells is important for inducing osteoclasts at the site of bone metastasis and leading to bone destruction.