Haemostasis in the arteriolar circulation mediated by von Willebrand factor (VWF) binding to platelets is an example of an adhesive interaction that must withstand strong hydrodynamic forces acting on cells. VWF is a concatenated, multifunctional protein that has binding sites for platelets as well as subendothelial collagen. Binding of the A1 domain in VWF to the glycoprotein Ib alpha subunit (GPIbalpha) on the surface of platelets mediates crosslinking of platelets to one another and the formation of a platelet plug for arterioles. The importance of VWF is illustrated by its mutation in von Willebrand disease, a bleeding diathesis. Here, we describe a novel mechanochemical specialization of the A1-GPIbalpha bond for force-resistance. We have developed a method that enables, for the first time, repeated measurements of the binding and unbinding of a receptor and ligand in a single molecule (ReaLiSM). We demonstrate two states of the receptor-ligand bond, that is, a flex-bond. One state is seen at low force; a second state begins to engage at 10 pN with a approximately 20-fold longer lifetime and greater force resistance. The lifetimes of the two states, how force exponentiates lifetime, and the kinetics of switching between the two states are all measured. For the first time, single-molecule measurements on this system are in agreement with bulk phase measurements. The results have important implications not only for how platelets bound to VWF are able to resist force to plug arterioles, but also how increased flow activates platelet plug formation.
We show that the length of a loop in the β-knee, between the first and second cysteines (C1-C2) in integrin EGF-like (I-EGF) domain 2, modulates integrin activation. Three independent sets of mutants, including swaps among different integrin β-subunits, show that C1-C2 loop lengths of 12 and longer favor the low affinity state and masking of ligand-induced binding site (LIBS) epitopes. Shortening length from 12 to 4 residues progressively increases ligand binding and LIBS epitope exposure. Compared with length, the loop sequence had a smaller effect, which was ascribable to stabilizing loop conformation, and not interactions with the α-subunit. The data together with structural calculations support the concept that the C1-C2 loop is an entropic spring and an emerging theme that disordered regions can regulate allostery. Diversity in the length of this loop may have evolved among integrin β-subunits to adjust the equilibrium between the bent and extended conformations at different set points.
The mechanisms by which signals are transmitted across the plasma membrane to regulate signaling are largely unknown for receptors with single-pass transmembrane domains such as the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). A crystal structure of the extracellular domain of EGFR dimerized by epidermal growth factor (EGF) reveals the extended, rod-like domain IV and a small, hydrophobic domain IV interface compatible with flexibility. The crystal structure and disulfide cross-linking suggest that the 7-residue linker between the extracellular and transmembrane domains is flexible. Disulfide cross-linking of the transmembrane domain shows that EGF stimulates only moderate association in the first two α-helical turns, in contrast to association throughout the membrane over five α-helical turns in glycophorin A and integrin. Furthermore, systematic mutagenesis to leucine and phenylalanine suggests that no specific transmembrane interfaces are required for EGFR kinase activation. These results suggest that linkage between ligand-induced dimerization and tyrosine kinase activation is much looser than was previously envisioned.
Integrin α(X)β(2) functions as complement receptor for iC3b and mediates recognition and phagocytosis of pathogens. We used negative-stain EM to examine the α(X)β(2) interaction with iC3b. EM class averages of α(X)β(2) in complex with iC3b define the binding sites on both the integrin and iC3b. iC3b contains C3c and thioester domain moieties linked by a long flexible linker. The binding site is on the key ring of the C3c moiety, at the interface between the MG3 and MG4 domains. Similar complexes are seen between α(X)β(2) and the C3c fragment. α(X)β(2) binds through the α(X) αI domain, on the face known to bear the metal ion-dependent adhesion site, at the opposite end of the αI domain from its site of insertion in the β-propeller domain.
Integrin α(4)β(7) mediates rolling and firm adhesion of leucocytes, two of the critical steps in leukocyte migration and tissue specific homing. Affinity of α(4)β(7) for ligand is dynamically regulated by three interlinked metal ion-binding sites in β(7)-subunit I domain. In this study, we found that Phe185 (F185), a highly conserved aromatic residue in β(7)-subunit, links the specificity-determining loop and the synergistic metal ion-binding site (SyMBS) through cation-π interaction. Mutations of F185 that disrupted the SyMBS cation-F185 interaction led to deficient firm cell adhesion mediated by high affinity α(4)β(7), and only slightly affected rolling adhesion mediated by low affinity α(4)β(7). Disruption of SyMBS cation-F185 interaction induced partial extension of integrin ectodomain and separation of cytoplasmic tails, and impaired α(4)β(7)-mediated bidirectional signaling. In addition, loss of SyMBS cation-F185 interaction increased paxillin expression and promoted paxillin-integrin binding, leading to deficient cell spreading. Furthermore, integrin α(4)β(7)-mediated cell migration was decreased by the abolishment of SyMBS cation-F185 interaction. Thus, these findings reveal a cation-π interaction playing vital roles in the regulation of integrin affinity, signaling, and biological functions.
The platelet integrin α(IIb)β(3) is essential for hemostasis and thrombosis through its binding of adhesive plasma proteins. We have determined crystal structures of the α(IIb)β(3) headpiece in the absence of ligand and after soaking in RUC-1, a novel small molecule antagonist. In the absence of ligand, the α(IIb)β(3) headpiece is in a closed conformation, distinct from the open conformation visualized in presence of Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD) antagonists. In contrast to RGD antagonists, RUC-1 binds only to the α(IIb) subunit. Molecular dynamics revealed nearly identical binding. Two species-specific residues, α(IIb) Y190 and α(IIb) D232, in the RUC-1 binding site were confirmed as important by mutagenesis. In sharp contrast to RGD-based antagonists, RUC-1 did not induce α(IIb)β(3) to adopt an open conformation, as determined by gel filtration and dynamic light scattering. These studies provide insights into the factors that regulate integrin headpiece opening, and demonstrate the molecular basis for a novel mechanism of integrin antagonism.
The immunoglobulin (Ig) superfamily is one of the largest families in the vertebrate genome, found most frequently in cell surface molecules. Intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) contains five extracellular Ig superfamily domains (D1-D5) of which the first domain, D1, is the binding site for the integrin lymphocyte function-associated antigen-1 (LFA-1) and human rhinovirus. Despite the modular nature of many Ig superfamily domains with respect to domain folding and ligand recognition, D1 does not fold on its own due to the loss of its interaction with the second domain. The goal of this study was to engineer ICAM-1 D1 by introducing mutations that would stabilize the Ig superfamily domain fold while retaining its ability to bind to LFA-1 and rhinovirus. First, with a directed evolution approach, we isolated mutations in D1 that showed binding to conformation-specific antibodies and the ligand binding domain of LFA-1 called the inserted, or I, domain. Then, with a rational design approach we introduced mutations that contributed to the stability of ICAM-1 D1 in solution. The mutations that restored native folding of D1 in isolation were those that would convert hydrogen bond networks in buried regions into hydrophobic contacts. Notably, for most mutations, identical or similar types of substitutions were found in ICAM-1 molecules of different species and other ICAM family members. The systematic approach demonstrated in this study to engineer a single Ig superfamily fold in ICAM-1 can be broadly applicable to the engineering of modular Ig superfamily domains in other cell surface molecules.
Negative stain electron microscopy (EM) and adhesion assays show that alpha(X)beta(2) integrin activation requires headpiece opening as well as extension. An extension-inducing Fab to the beta(2) leg, in combination with representative activating and inhibitory Fabs, were examined for effect on the equilibrium between the open and closed headpiece conformations. The two activating Fabs stabilized the open headpiece conformation. Conversely, two different inhibitory Fabs stabilized the closed headpiece conformation. Adhesion assays revealed that alpha(X)beta(2) in the extended-open headpiece conformation had high affinity for ligand, whereas both the bent conformation and the extended-closed headpiece conformation represented the low affinity state. Intermediate integrin affinity appears to result not from a single conformational state, but from a mixture of equilibrating conformational states.