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Human umbilical vein endothelial cell attachment, spreading and migration on collagen and vitronectin are mediated by integrins alpha 2 beta 1 and alpha v beta 3, respectively, and these events take place in the absence of cytokines, growth factors, or chemoattractants. Cell attachment and spreading on these ligands occur in the absence of extracellular calcium, as does migration on collagen. In contrast, vitronectin-mediated migration is absolutely dependent on the presence of extracellular calcium. Cell contact with immobilized vitronectin or anti-alpha v beta 3 mAbs promotes a measurable rise in [Ca2+]i which requires an extracellular calcium source, whereas collagen, or anti- alpha 2 beta 1 mAbs fail to promote this signaling event. In fact, vitronectin-mediated migration and the rise in intracellular calcium showed the same dose dependence on extracellular calcium. While vitronectin and collagen differ in their ability to induce a calcium influx both ligands or antibodies to their respective integrins promote an equivalent increase in intracellular pH consistent with activation of the Na/H antiporter an event independent of extracellular calcium. These results support two salient conclusions. Firstly, collagen and vitronectin, through their respective integrins, promote distinct intracellular signaling events. Secondly, the alpha v beta 3 specific influx of calcium is not required for cell spreading yet appears to facilitate cellular migration on vitronectin.