Keratinocytes and other epithelial cells express two receptors for the basement membrane (BM) extracellular matrix component laminin-5 (Ln-5), integrins alpha 3 beta 1 and alpha 6 beta 4. While alpha 3 beta 1 mediates adhesion, spreading, and migration (Kreidberg, J.A. 2000. Curr. Opin. Cell Biol. 12:548--553), alpha 6 beta 4 is involved in BM anchorage via hemidesmosomes (Borradori, L., and A. Sonnenberg. 1999. J. Invest. Dermatol. 112:411--418). We investigated a possible regulatory interplay between alpha 3 beta 1 and alpha 6 beta 4 in cell motility using HaCaT keratinocytes as a model. We found that alpha 6 beta 4 antibodies inhibit alpha 3 beta 1-mediated migration on Ln-5, but only when migration is haptotactic (i.e., spontaneous or stimulated by alpha 3 beta 1 activation), and not when chemotactic (i.e., triggered by epidermal growth factor receptor). Inhibition of migration by alpha 6 beta 4 depends upon phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3-K) since it is abolished by PI3-K blockers and by dominant-negative PI3-K, and constitutively active PI3-K prevents haptotaxis. In HaCaT cells incubated with anti-alpha 6 beta 4 antibodies, activation of PI3-K is mediated by alpha 6 beta 4-associated erbB-2, as indicated by erbB-2 autophosphorylation and erbB-2/p85 PI3-K coprecipitation. Furthermore, dominant-negative erbB-2 abolishes inhibition of haptotaxis by anti-alpha 6 beta 4 antibodies. These results support a model whereby (a) haptotactic cell migration on Ln-5 is regulated by concerted action of alpha 3beta 1 and alpha 6 beta 4 integrins, (b) alpha 6 beta 4-associated erbB-2 and PI3-K negatively affect haptotaxis, and (c) chemotaxis on Ln-5 is not affected by alpha 6 beta 4 antibodies and may require PI3-K activity. This model could be of general relevance to motility of epithelial cells in contact with BM.