Intermolecular Transmembrane Domain Interactions Activate Integrin {alpha}IIb{beta}3 [Cell Biology]

May 16th, 2014 by Ye, F., Kim, S.-J., Kim, C.

Integrins are the major cell adhesion molecules responsible for cell attachment to the extracellular matrix. The strength of integrin-mediated adhesion is controlled by the affinity of individual integrins (integrin activation) as well as by the number of integrins involved in such adhesion. The positive correlation between integrin activation and integrin clustering had been suggested previously, but several trials to induce integrin clustering by dimerization of the transmembrane domain or tail region of integrin α subunits failed to demonstrate any change in integrin activation. Here, using platelet integrin αIIbβ3 as a model system, we showed that there is intermolecular lateral interaction between integrins through the transmembrane domains, and this interaction can enhance the affinity state of integrins. In addition, when integrin clustering was induced through heteromeric lateral interactions using bimolecular fluorescence complementation, we could observe a significant increase in the number of active integrin molecules. Since the possibility of intermolecular interaction would be increased by a higher local concentration of integrins, we propose that integrin clustering can shift the equilibrium in favor of integrin activation.