In aI integrins including leukocyte function-associated antigen-1 (LFA-1), ligand-binding function is delegated to the aI domain, requiring extra steps in the relay of signals that activate ligand binding and coordinate it with cytoplasmic signals. Crystal structures reveal great variation in orientation between the aI domain and the remainder of the integrin head. Here, we investigated the mechanisms involved in signal relay to the aI domain, including whether binding of the ligand intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) to the aI domain is linked to headpiece opening and engenders a preferred aI domain orientation. Using small-angle Xray scattering (SAXS) and negative-stain EM we define structures of ICAM-1, LFA-1, and their complex, and the effect of activation by Mn2+. Headpiece opening was substantially stabilized by substitution of Mg2+ with Mn2+ and became complete upon ICAM-1 addition. These agents stabilized aI-headpiece orientation, resulting in a well-defined orientation of ICAM-1 such that its tandem Iglike domains pointed in the opposite direction from the β-subunit leg of LFA-1. Mutations in the integrin βI domain α1/α1` helix stabilizing either the open or the closed βI-domain conformation indicated that α1/α1` helix movements are linked to ICAM-1 binding by the aI domain and to the extended-open conformation of the ectodomain. The LFA-1--ICAM-1 orientation described here with ICAM-1 pointing anti-parallel to the LFA-1 β-subunit leg is the same orientation that would be stabilized by tensile force transmitted between the ligand and the actin cytoskeleton, and is consistent with the cytoskeletal force model of integrin activation.
We use super-resolution interferometric photoactivation and localization microscopy (iPALM) and a constrained photoactivatable fluorescent protein integrin fusion to measure the displacement of the head of integrin lymphocyte function-associated 1 (LFA-1) resulting from integrin conformational change on the cell surface. We demonstrate that the distance of the LFA-1 head increases substantially between basal and ligand-engaged conformations, which can only be explained at the molecular level by integrin extension. We further demonstrate that one class of integrin antagonist maintains the bent conformation, while another antagonist class induces extension. Our molecular scale measurements on cell-surface LFA-1 are in excellent agreement with distances derived from crystallographic and electron microscopy structures of bent and extended integrins. Our distance measurements are also in excellent agreement with a previous model of LFA-1 bound to ICAM-1 derived from the orientation of LFA-1 on the cell surface measured using fluorescence polarization microscopy.
Integrins αVβ6 and αVβ8 are specialized for recognizing pro-TGF-β and activating its growth factor by releasing it from the latency imposed by its surrounding prodomain. The integrin αVβ8 is atypical among integrins in lacking sites in its cytoplasmic domain for binding to actin cytoskeleton adaptors. Here, we examine αVβ8 for atypical binding to pro-TGF-β1. In contrast to αVβ6, αVβ8 has a constitutive extended-closed conformation, and binding to pro-TGF-β1 does not stabilize the open conformation of its headpiece. Although Mn(2+) potently activates other integrins and increases affinity of αVβ6 for pro-TGF-β1 25- to 55-fold, it increases αVβ8 affinity only 2- to 3-fold. This minimal effect correlates with the inability of Mn(2+) and pro-TGF-β1 to stabilize the open conformation of the αVβ8 headpiece. Moreover, αVβ8 was inhibited by high concentrations of Mn(2+) and was stimulated and inhibited at markedly different Ca(2+) concentrations than αVβ6 These unusual characteristics are likely to be important in the still incompletely understood physiologic mechanisms that regulate αVβ8 binding to and activation of pro-TGF-β.
Integrins undergo large-scale conformational changes upon activation. Signaling events driving integrin activation have previously been discussed conceptually, but not quantitatively. Here, recent measurements of the intrinsic ligand-binding affinity and free energy of each integrin conformational state on the cell surface, together with the length scales of conformational change, are used to quantitatively compare models of activation. We examine whether binding of cytoskeletal adaptors to integrin cytoplasmic domains is sufficient for activation or whether exertion of tensile force by the actin cytoskeleton across the integrin-ligand complex is also required. We find that only the combination of adaptor binding and cytoskeletal force provides ultrasensitive regulation. Moreover, switch-like activation by force depends on the large, >130 Å length-scale change in integrin extension, which is well tailored to match the free-energy difference between the inactive (bent-closed) and active (extended-open) conformations. The length scale and energy cost in integrin extension enable activation by force in the low pN range and appear to be the key specializations that enable cell adhesion through integrins to be coordinated with cytoskeletal dynamics.
Recognition by the leukocyte integrins αXβ2 and αMβ2 of complement iC3b-opsonized targets is essential for effector functions including phagocytosis. The integrin-binding sites on iC3b remain incompletely characterized. Here, we describe negative-stain electron microscopy and biochemical studies of αXβ2 and αMβ2 in complex with iC3b. Despite high homology, the two integrins bind iC3b at multiple distinct sites. αXβ2 uses the αX αI domain to bind iC3b on its C3c moiety at one of two sites: a major site at the interface between macroglobulin (MG) 3 and MG4 domains, and a less frequently used site near the C345C domain. In contrast, αMβ2 uses its αI domain to bind iC3b at the thioester domain and simultaneously interacts through a region near the αM β-propeller and β2 βI domain with a region of the C3c moiety near the C345C domain. Remarkably, there is no overlap between the primary binding site of αXβ2 and the binding site of αMβ2 on iC3b. Distinctive binding sites on iC3b by integrins αXβ2 and αMβ2 may be biologically beneficial for leukocytes to more efficiently capture opsonized pathogens and to avoid subversion by pathogen factors.