Rules of engagement between αvβ6 integrin and foot-and-mouth disease virus
Kotecha, A., et al. Rules of engagement between αvβ6 integrin and foot-and-mouth disease virus. Nat Commun 8, 15408 (2017).Abstract
Foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) mediates cell entry by attachment to an integrin receptor, generally αvβ6, via a conserved arginine-glycine-aspartic acid (RGD) motif in the exposed, antigenic, GH loop of capsid protein VP1. Infection can also occur in tissue culture adapted virus in the absence of integrin via acquired basic mutations interacting with heparin sulphate (HS); this virus is attenuated in natural infections. HS interaction has been visualized at a conserved site in two serotypes suggesting a propensity for sulfated-sugar binding. Here we determined the interaction between αvβ6 and two tissue culture adapted FMDV strains by cryo-electron microscopy. In the preferred mode of engagement, the fully open form of the integrin, hitherto unseen at high resolution, attaches to an extended GH loop via interactions with the RGD motif plus downstream hydrophobic residues. In addition, an N-linked sugar of the integrin attaches to the previously identified HS binding site, suggesting a functional role.
Atypical interactions of integrin αVβ8 with pro-TGF-β1
Wang, J., et al. Atypical interactions of integrin αVβ8 with pro-TGF-β1. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A (2017).Abstract

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.

Integrin extension enables ultrasensitive regulation by cytoskeletal force
Li, J. & Springer, T.A. Integrin extension enables ultrasensitive regulation by cytoskeletal force. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A (2017).Abstract

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.

Distinct recognition of complement iC3b by integrins αXβ2 and αMβ2
Xu, S., Wang, J., Wang, J.-H. & Springer, T.A. Distinct recognition of complement iC3b by integrins αXβ2 and αMβ2. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A (2017).Abstract

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.

Sorting zebrafish thrombocyte lineage cells with a Cd41 monoclonal antibody enriches hematopoietic stem cell activity
Gansner, J.M., et al. Sorting zebrafish thrombocyte lineage cells with a Cd41 monoclonal antibody enriches hematopoietic stem cell activity. Blood (2017). gansner-2017.pdf
Conformational equilibria and intrinsic affinities define integrin activation
Li, J., et al. Conformational equilibria and intrinsic affinities define integrin activation. EMBO J (2017).Abstract

We show that the three conformational states of integrin α5β1 have discrete free energies and define activation by measuring intrinsic affinities for ligand of each state and the equilibria linking them. The 5,000-fold higher affinity of the extended-open state than the bent-closed and extended-closed states demonstrates profound regulation of affinity. Free energy requirements for activation are defined with protein fragments and intact α5β1 On the surface of K562 cells, α5β1 is 99.8% bent-closed. Stabilization of the bent conformation by integrin transmembrane and cytoplasmic domains must be overcome by cellular energy input to stabilize extension. Following extension, headpiece opening is energetically favored. N-glycans and leg domains in each subunit that connect the ligand-binding head to the membrane repel or crowd one another and regulate conformational equilibria in favor of headpiece opening. The results suggest new principles for regulating signaling in the large class of receptors built from extracellular domains in tandem with single-span transmembrane domains.

Force interacts with macromolecular structure in activation of TGF-β
Dong, X., et al. Force interacts with macromolecular structure in activation of TGF-β. Nature 542, 7639, 55-59 (2017).Abstract

Integrins are adhesion receptors that transmit force across the plasma membrane between extracellular ligands and the actin cytoskeleton. In activation of the transforming growth factor-β1 precursor (pro-TGF-β1), integrins bind to the prodomain, apply force, and release the TGF-β growth factor. However, we know little about how integrins bind macromolecular ligands in the extracellular matrix or transmit force to them. Here we show how integrin αVβ6 binds pro-TGF-β1 in an orientation biologically relevant for force-dependent release of TGF-β from latency. The conformation of the prodomain integrin-binding motif differs in the presence and absence of integrin binding; differences extend well outside the interface and illustrate how integrins can remodel extracellular matrix. Remodelled residues outside the interface stabilize the integrin-bound conformation, adopt a conformation similar to earlier-evolving family members, and show how macromolecular components outside the binding motif contribute to integrin recognition. Regions in and outside the highly interdigitated interface stabilize a specific integrin/pro-TGF-β orientation that defines the pathway through these macromolecules which actin-cytoskeleton-generated tensile force takes when applied through the integrin β-subunit. Simulations of force-dependent activation of TGF-β demonstrate evolutionary specializations for force application through the TGF-β prodomain and through the β- and not α-subunit of the integrin.

Samy, K.P., et al. Selective Targeting of High-Affinity LFA-1 Does Not Augment Costimulation Blockade in a Nonhuman Primate Renal Transplantation Model. Am J Transplant (2016).Abstract
Costimulation blockade (CoB) via belatacept is a lower-morbidity alternative to calcineurin inhibitor (CNI)-based immunosuppression. However, it has higher rates of early acute rejection. These early rejections are mediated in part by memory T cells, which have reduced dependence on the pathway targeted by belatacept and increased adhesion molecule expression. One such molecule is leukocyte function antigen (LFA)-1. LFA-1 exists in two forms: a commonly expressed, low-affinity form and a transient, high-affinity form, expressed only during activation. We have shown that antibodies reactive with LFA-1 regardless of its configuration are effective in eliminating memory T cells but at the cost of impaired protective immunity. Here we test two novel agents, leukotoxin A and AL-579, each of which targets the high-affinity form of LFA-1, to determine whether this more precise targeting prevents belatacept-resistant rejection. Despite evidence of ex vivo and in vivo ligand-specific activity, neither agent when combined with belatacept proved superior to belatacept monotherapy. Leukotoxin A approached a ceiling of toxicity before efficacy, while AL-579 failed to significantly alter the peripheral immune response. These data, and prior studies, suggest that LFA-1 blockade may not be a suitable adjuvant agent for CoB-resistant rejection.
Coordinated integrin activation by actin-dependent force during T-cell migration.
Nordenfelt, P., Elliott, H.L. & Springer, T.A. Coordinated integrin activation by actin-dependent force during T-cell migration. Nat Commun 7, 13119 (2016).Abstract

For a cell to move forward it must convert chemical energy into mechanical propulsion. Force produced by actin polymerization can generate traction across the plasma membrane by transmission through integrins to their ligands. However, the role this force plays in integrin activation is unknown. Here we show that integrin activity and cytoskeletal dynamics are reciprocally linked, where actin-dependent force itself appears to regulate integrin activity. We generated fluorescent tension-sensing constructs of integrin αLβ2 (LFA-1) to visualize intramolecular tension during cell migration. Using quantitative imaging of migrating T cells, we correlate tension in the αL or β2 subunit with cell and actin dynamics. We find that actin engagement produces tension within the β2 subunit to induce and stabilize an active integrin conformational state and that this requires intact talin and kindlin motifs. This supports a general mechanism where localized actin polymerization can coordinate activation of the complex machinery required for cell migration.

Cytoskeletal perturbation leads to platelet dysfunction and thrombocytopenia in variant forms of Glanzmann thrombasthenia.
Bury, L., et al. Cytoskeletal perturbation leads to platelet dysfunction and thrombocytopenia in variant forms of Glanzmann thrombasthenia. Haematologica 101, 1, 46-56 (2016).Abstract

Several patients have been reported to have variant dominant forms of Glanzmann thrombasthenia, associated with macrothrombocytopenia and caused by gain-of-function mutations of ITGB3 or ITGA2B leading to reduced surface expression and constitutive activation of integrin αIIbβ3. The mechanisms leading to a bleeding phenotype of these patients have never been addressed. The aim of this study was to unravel the mechanism by which ITGB3 mutations causing activation of αIIbβ3 lead to platelet dysfunction and macrothrombocytopenia. Using platelets from two patients carrying the β3 del647-686 mutation and Chinese hamster ovary cells expressing different αIIbβ3-activating mutations, we showed that reduced surface expression of αIIbβ3 is due to receptor internalization. Moreover, we demonstrated that permanent triggering of αIIbβ3-mediated outside-in signaling causes an impairment of cytoskeletal reorganization arresting actin turnover at the stage of polymerization. The induction of actin polymerization by jasplakinolide, a natural toxin that promotes actin nucleation and prevents depolymerization of stress fibers, in control platelets produced an impairment of platelet function similar to that of patients with variant forms of dominant Glanzmann thrombasthenia. del647-686β3-transduced murine megakaryocytes generated proplatelets with a reduced number of large tips and asymmetric barbell-proplatelets, suggesting that impaired cytoskeletal rearrangement is the cause of macrothrombocytopenia. These data show that impaired cytoskeletal remodeling caused by a constitutively activated αIIbβ3 is the main effector of platelet dysfunction and macrothrombocytopenia, and thus of bleeding, in variant forms of dominant Glanzmann thrombasthenia.

Interrogating the Plasmodium Sporozoite Surface: Identification of Surface-Exposed Proteins and Demonstration of Glycosylation on CSP and TRAP by Mass Spectrometry-Based Proteomics.
Swearingen, K.E., et al. Interrogating the Plasmodium Sporozoite Surface: Identification of Surface-Exposed Proteins and Demonstration of Glycosylation on CSP and TRAP by Mass Spectrometry-Based Proteomics. PLoS Pathog 12, 4, e1005606 (2016).Abstract

Malaria parasite infection is initiated by the mosquito-transmitted sporozoite stage, a highly motile invasive cell that targets hepatocytes in the liver for infection. A promising approach to developing a malaria vaccine is the use of proteins located on the sporozoite surface as antigens to elicit humoral immune responses that prevent the establishment of infection. Very little of the P. falciparum genome has been considered as potential vaccine targets, and candidate vaccines have been almost exclusively based on single antigens, generating the need for novel target identification. The most advanced malaria vaccine to date, RTS,S, a subunit vaccine consisting of a portion of the major surface protein circumsporozoite protein (CSP), conferred limited protection in Phase III trials, falling short of community-established vaccine efficacy goals. In striking contrast to the limited protection seen in current vaccine trials, sterilizing immunity can be achieved by immunization with radiation-attenuated sporozoites, suggesting that more potent protection may be achievable with a multivalent protein vaccine. Here, we provide the most comprehensive analysis to date of proteins located on the surface of or secreted by Plasmodium falciparum salivary gland sporozoites. We used chemical labeling to isolate surface-exposed proteins on sporozoites and identified these proteins by mass spectrometry. We validated several of these targets and also provide evidence that components of the inner membrane complex are in fact surface-exposed and accessible to antibodies in live sporozoites. Finally, our mass spectrometry data provide the first direct evidence that the Plasmodium surface proteins CSP and TRAP are glycosylated in sporozoites, a finding that could impact the selection of vaccine antigens.

Structural Biology and Evolution of the TGF-β Family.
Hinck, A.P., Mueller, T.D. & Springer, T.A. Structural Biology and Evolution of the TGF-β Family. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol (2016).Abstract

We review the evolution and structure of members of the transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) family, antagonistic or agonistic modulators, and receptors that regulate TGF-β signaling in extracellular environments. The growth factor (GF) domain common to all family members and many of their antagonists evolved from a common cystine knot growth factor (CKGF) domain. The CKGF superfamily comprises six distinct families in primitive metazoans, including the TGF-β and Dan families. Compared with Wnt/Frizzled and Notch/Delta families that also specify body axes, cell fate, tissues, and other families that contain CKGF domains that evolved in parallel, the TGF-β family was the most fruitful in evolution. Complexes between the prodomains and GFs of the TGF-β family suggest a new paradigm for regulating GF release by conversion from closed- to open-arm procomplex conformations. Ternary complexes of the final step in extracellular signaling show how TGF-β GF dimers bind type I and type II receptors on the cell surface, and enable understanding of much of the specificity and promiscuity in extracellular signaling. However, structures suggest that when GFs bind repulsive guidance molecule (RGM) family coreceptors, type I receptors do not bind until reaching an intracellular, membrane-enveloped compartment, blurring the line between extra- and intracellular signaling. Modulator protein structures show how structurally diverse antagonists including follistatins, noggin, and members of the chordin family bind GFs to regulate signaling; complexes with the Dan family remain elusive. Much work is needed to understand how these molecular components assemble to form signaling hubs in extracellular environments in vivo.

Relating conformation to function in integrin α5β1
Su, Y., et al. Relating conformation to function in integrin α5β1. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. (2016). Publisher's VersionAbstract

Whether β1 integrin ectodomains visit conformational states similarly to β2 and β3 integrins has not been characterized. Furthermore, despite a wealth of activating and inhibitory antibodies to β1 integrins, the conformational states that these antibodies stabilize, and the relation of these conformations to function, remain incompletely characterized. Using negative-stain electron microscopy, we show that the integrin α5β1 ectodomain adopts extended-closed and extended-open conformations as well as a bent conformation. Antibodies SNAKA51, 8E3, N29, and 9EG7 bind to different domains in the α5 or β1 legs, activate, and stabilize extended ectodomain conformations. Antibodies 12G10 and HUTS-4 bind to the β1 βI domain and hybrid domains, respectively, activate, and stabilize the open headpiece conformation. Antibody TS2/16 binds a similar epitope as 12G10, activates, and appears to stabilize an open βI domain conformation without requiring extension or hybrid domain swing-out. mAb13 and SG/19 bind to the βI domain and βI-hybrid domain interface, respectively, inhibit, and stabilize the closed conformation of the headpiece. The effects of the antibodies on cell adhesion to fibronectin substrates suggest that the extended-open conformation of α5β1 is adhesive and that the extended-closed and bent-closed conformations are nonadhesive. The functional effects and binding sites of antibodies and fibronectin were consistent with their ability in binding to α5β1 on cell surfaces to cross-enhance or inhibit one another by competitive or noncompetitive (allosteric) mechanisms.

Leukocyte integrin αLβ2 headpiece structures: The αI domain, the pocket for the internal ligand, and concerted movements of its loops
Sen, M. & Springer, T.A. Leukocyte integrin αLβ2 headpiece structures: The αI domain, the pocket for the internal ligand, and concerted movements of its loops. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. (2016).Abstract

High-resolution crystal structures of the headpiece of lymphocyte function-associated antigen-1 (integrin αLβ2) reveal how the αI domain interacts with its platform formed by the α-subunit β-propeller and β-subunit βI domains. The αLβ2 structures compared with αXβ2 structures show that the αI domain, tethered through its N-linker and a disulfide to a stable β-ribbon pillar near the center of the platform, can undergo remarkable pivoting and tilting motions that appear buffered by N-glycan decorations that differ between αL and αX subunits. Rerefined β2 integrin structures reveal details including pyroglutamic acid at the β2 N terminus and bending within the EGF1 domain. Allostery is relayed to the αI domain by an internal ligand that binds to a pocket at the interface between the β-propeller and βI domains. Marked differences between the αL and αX subunit β-propeller domains concentrate near the binding pocket and αI domain interfaces. Remarkably, movement in allostery in the βI domain of specificity determining loop 1 (SDL1) causes concerted movement of SDL2 and thereby tightens the binding pocket for the internal ligand.

β-subunit Binding is Sufficient for Ligands to open the Integrin αIIbβ3 Headpiece.
Lin, F.-Y., Zhu, J., Eng, E.T., Hudson, N.E. & Springer, T.A. β-subunit Binding is Sufficient for Ligands to open the Integrin αIIbβ3 Headpiece. J Biol Chem. 291, 9, 4537-56 (2016). Publisher's VersionAbstract

The platelet integrin αIIbβ3 binds to a KQAGDV motif at the fibrinogen γ-chain C-terminus and to RGD motifs present in loops in many extracellular matrix proteins. These ligands bind in a groove between the integrin α and β subunits; the basic Lys or Arg sidechain hydrogen bonds to the αIIb-subunit and the acidic Asp sidechain coordinates to a metal ion held by the β3-subunit. Ligand binding induces headpiece opening, with conformational change in the β-subunit. During this opening, RGD slides in the ligand-binding pocket towards αIIb, with movement of the βI-domain β1-α1 loop toward αIIb, enabling formation of direct, charged hydrogen bonds between the Arg sidechain and αIIb. Here we test whether ligand interactions with β3 suffice for stable ligand binding and headpiece opening. We find that the AGDV tetrapeptide from KQAGDV binds to the αIIbβ3 headpiece with affinity comparable to the RGDSP peptide from fibronectin. AGDV induced complete headpiece opening in solution as shown by increase in hydrodynamic radius. Soaking of AGDV into closed αIIbβ3 headpiece crystals induced intermediate states similarly to RGDSP. AGDV has very little contact with the α subunit. Furthermore, as measured by epitope exposure, AGDV, like the fibrinogen γ C-terminal peptide and RGD, caused integrin extension on the cell surface. Thus, pushing by the β3 subunit on Asp is sufficient for headpiece opening and ligand sliding, and no pulling by the αIIb subunit on Arg is required.

Copyright © 2015, The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Linker regions and flexibility around the metalloprotease domain account for conformational activation of ADAMTS-13.
Deforche, L., et al. Linker regions and flexibility around the metalloprotease domain account for conformational activation of ADAMTS-13. J Thromb Haemost 13, 11, 2063-75 (2015).Abstract

BACKGROUND: Recently, conformational activation of ADAMTS-13 was identified. This mechanism showed the evolution from a condensed conformation, in which the proximal MDTCS and distal T2-CUB2 domains are in close contact with each other, to an activated, open structure due to binding with von Willebrand factor (VWF). OBJECTIVES: Identification of cryptic epitope/exosite exposure after conformational activation and of sites of flexibility in ADAMTS-13. METHODS: The activating effect of 25 anti-T2-CUB2 antibodies was studied in the FRETS-VWF73 and the vortex assay. Cryptic epitope/exosite exposure was determined with ELISA and VWF binding assay. The molecular basis for flexibility was hypothesized through rapid automatic detection and alignment of repeats (RADAR) analysis, tested with ELISA using deletion variants and visualized using electron microscopy. RESULTS: Eleven activating anti-ADAMTS-13 antibodies, directed against the T5-CUB2 domains, were identified in the FRETS-VWF73 assay. RADAR analysis identified three linker regions in the distal domains. Interestingly, identification of an antibody recognizing a cryptic epitope in the metalloprotease domain confirmed the contribution of these linker regions to conformational activation of the enzyme. The proof of flexibility around both the T2 and metalloprotease domains, as shown by by electron microscopy, further supported this contribution. In addition, cryptic epitope exposure was identified in the distal domains, because activating anti-T2-CUB2 antibodies increased the binding to folded VWF up to ~3-fold. CONCLUSION: Conformational activation of ADAMTS-13 leads to cryptic epitope/exosite exposure in both proximal and distal domains, subsequently inducing increased activity. Furthermore, three linker regions in the distal domains are responsible for flexibility and enable the interaction between the proximal and the T8-CUB2 domains.

Structural basis for quinine-dependent antibody binding to platelet integrin αIIbβ3.
Zhu, J., Zhu, J., Bougie, D.W., Aster, R.H. & Springer, T.A. Structural basis for quinine-dependent antibody binding to platelet integrin αIIbβ3. Blood 126, 18, 2138-45 (2015). Publisher's VersionAbstract

Drug-induced immune thrombocytopenia (DITP) is caused by antibodies that react with specific platelet-membrane glycoproteins when the provoking drug is present. More than 100 drugs have been implicated as triggers for this condition, quinine being one of the most common. The cause of DITP in most cases appears to be a drug-induced antibody that binds to a platelet membrane glycoprotein only when the drug is present. How a soluble drug promotes binding of an otherwise nonreactive immunoglobulin to its target, leading to platelet destruction, is uncertain, in part because of the difficulties of working with polyclonal human antibodies usually available only in small quantities. Recently, quinine-dependent murine monoclonal antibodies were developed that recognize a defined epitope on the β-propeller domain of the platelet integrin αIIb subunit (GPIIb) only when the drug is present and closely mimic the behavior of antibodies found in human patients with quinine-induced thrombocytopenia in vitro and in vivo. Here, we demonstrate specific, high-affinity binding of quinine to the complementarity-determining regions (CDRs) of these antibodies and define in crystal structures the changes induced in the CDR by this interaction. Because no detectable binding of quinine to the target integrin could be demonstrated in previous studies, the findings indicate that a hybrid paratope consisting of quinine and reconfigured antibody CDR plays a critical role in recognition of its target epitope by an antibody and suggest that, in this type of drug-induced immunologic injury, the primary reaction involves binding of the drug to antibody CDRs, causing it to acquire specificity for a site on a platelet integrin.

© 2015 by The American Society of Hematology.

L., L., et al. Carbon nanotube-assisted optical activation of TGF-β signalling by near-infrared light. Nat Nanotechnol. 10, 5, 465-71 (2015).Abstract

Receptor-mediated signal transduction modulates complex cellular behaviours such as cell growth, migration and differentiation. Although photoactivatable proteins have emerged as a powerful tool for controlling molecular interactions and signalling cascades at precise times and spaces using light, many of these light-sensitive proteins are activated by ultraviolent or visible light, which has limited tissue penetration. Here, we report a single-walled carbon nanotube (SWCNT)-assisted approach that enables near-infraredlight-triggered activation of transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) signal transduction, an important signalling pathway in embryonic development and cancer progression. The protein complex of TGF-β and its latency-associated peptide is conjugated onto SWCNTs, where TGF-β is inactive. Upon near-infrared irradiation, TGF-β is released through the photothermal effect of SWCNTs and becomes active. The released TGF-β activates downstream signal transduction in live cells and modulates cellular behaviours. Furthermore, preliminary studies show that the method can be used to mediate TGF-β signalling in living mice.

Force-induced on-rate switching and modulation by mutations in gain-of-function von Willebrand diseases.
Kim, J., Hudson, N.E. & Springer, T.A. Force-induced on-rate switching and modulation by mutations in gain-of-function von Willebrand diseases. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 112, 15, 4648-53 (2015).Abstract

Mutations in the ultralong vascular protein von Willebrand factor (VWF) cause the common human bleeding disorder, von Willebranddisease (VWD). The A1 domain in VWF binds to glycoprotein Ibα (GPIbα) on platelets, in a reaction triggered, in part, by alterations in flow during bleeding. Gain-of-function mutations in A1 and GPIbα in VWD suggest conformational regulation. We report that force application switches A1 and/or GPIbα to a second state with faster on-rate, providing a mechanism for activating VWF binding to platelets. Switching occurs near 10 pN, a force that also induces a state of the receptor-ligand complex with slower off-rate. Force greatly increases the effects of VWD mutations, explaining pathophysiology. Conversion of single molecule kon (s(-1)) to bulk phase kon (s(-1)M(-1)) and the kon and koff values extrapolated to zero force for the low-force pathways show remarkably good agreement with bulk-phase measurements.

Structure of bone morphogenetic protein 9 procomplex
Mi, L.-Z., et al. Structure of bone morphogenetic protein 9 procomplex. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 112, 3710-5 (2015).Abstract

Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) belong to the TGF-β family, whose 33 members regulate multiple aspects of morphogenesis. TGF-β family members are secreted as procomplexes containing a small growth factor dimer associated with two larger prodomains. As isolated procomplexes, some members are latent, whereas most are active; what determines these differences is unknown. Here, studies on pro-BMP structures and binding to receptors lead to insights into mechanisms that regulate latency in the TGF-β family and into the functions of their highly divergent prodomains. The observed open-armed, nonlatent conformation of pro-BMP9 and pro-BMP7 contrasts with the cross-armed, latent conformation of pro-TGF-β1. Despite markedly different arm orientations in pro-BMP and pro-TGF-β, the arm domain of the prodomain can similarly associate with the growth factor, whereas prodomain elements N- and C-terminal to the arm associate differently with the growth factor and may compete with one another to regulate latency and stepwise displacement by type I and II receptors. Sequence conservation suggests that pro-BMP9 can adopt both cross-armed and open-armed conformations. We propose that interactors in the matrix stabilize a cross-armed pro-BMP conformation and regulate transition between cross-armed, latent and open-armed, nonlatent pro-BMP conformations.