The N-terminal sequences of mouse laminin alpha3B and alpha5 chains have been completed and demonstrate the presence of a signal peptide followed by a complete laminin N-terminal (LN) module (domain VI). These signal peptides were released after recombinant production of larger fragments comprising domains VI/V (45-65 kDa) from this region yielding properly folded proteins, which were secreted from HEK-293-EBNA cells. Pepsin digestion of these fragments yielded products of 25-35 kDa, which consisted only of domain V. The alphaVI/V fragments were able to inhibit self-assembly of laminin-1, with those from the alpha3B and alpha5 chains being more active than those from alpha1 and alpha2 chains. Domain V fragments, however, showed a reduced activity, indicating the major contribution of the LN module in inhibition. These interactions were confirmed by surface-plasmon-resonance assays demonstrating moderate affinities (K(d)=0.02 to >6 microM) for the binding to laminin-1. This indicated that laminins containing alpha3B or alpha5 chains should also be able to form non-covalent networks by polymerization. The LN modules also showed heparin binding in affinity chromatography, which was strongest for alpha1/alpha2, moderate for alpha3B, whereas no binding was observed for alpha5. They all bound to heparan sulphate chains of perlecan and to sulphatides, with a lower variability in binding activity. Specific antibodies were raised against alpha3BVI/V and alpha5VI/V and were shown to stain basement membrane zones in various mouse tissues. These antibodies also allowed the identification of a new laminin assembly form 5B consisting of alpha3B, beta3 and gamma2 chains.