Integrins are important cell surface receptors that transmit bidirectional signals across the membrane. It has been shown that a conformational change of the integrin beta-subunit headpiece (i.e. the beta I domain and the hybrid domain) plays a critical role in regulating integrin ligand binding affinity and function. Previous studies have used coarse methods (a glycan wedge, mutations in transmembrane contacts) to force the beta-subunit into either the open or closed conformation. Here, we demonstrate a detailed understanding of this conformational change by applying computational design techniques to select five amino acid side chains that play an important role in the energetic balance between the open and closed conformations of alphaIIbbeta3. Eight single-point mutants were designed at these sites, of which five bound ligands much better than wild type. Further, these mutants were found to be in a more extended conformation than wild type, suggesting that the conformational change at the ligand binding headpiece was propagated to the legs of the integrin. This detailed understanding of the conformational change will assist in the development of allosteric drugs that either stabilize or destabilize specific integrin conformations without occluding the ligand-binding site.
Selectins are adhesion molecules that resist large tensile forces applied by hydrodynamic forces to leukocytes binding to vessel walls. In crystals, the liganded (high-affinity) and unliganded (low-affinity) conformations differ in orientation between their tandem lectin and EGF domains. I examine how tensile force exerted on a selectin-ligand complex in vivo could favor the more extended, high-affinity conformation. Allostery is transmitted from the EGF-lectin domain interface to the ligand-binding interface on the lectin domain, 30 A away. Trp-1 of the lectin domain and the long axis of the EGF domain form an L-shaped prybar that is welded together by hydrogen bonds to the Trp-1 alpha-amino group. Pivoting of the prybar induced by force demolishes an interface between the Trp-1 side chain and the lectin domain at a switch1 region. These changes are transmitted by rigid body movement of the switch2 region to rearrangements in the switch3 region at the ligand binding site. Another switch region corresponds to a single residue in the EGF domain with large effects on ligand binding and rolling adhesion. Allostery in selectins, and the alignment of tensile force on a selectin-ligand complex with the transition pathway for conformational change, explain much of the structural basis for selectin mechanochemistry.
The lengths of von Willebrand factor (VWF) concatamers correlate with hemostatic potency. After secretion in plasma, length is regulated by hydrodynamic shear force-dependent unfolding of the A2 domain, which is then cleaved by a specific protease. The 1.9-A crystal structure of the A2 domain demonstrates evolutionary adaptations to this shear sensor function. Unique among VWF A (VWA) domains, A2 contains a loop in place of the alpha4 helix, and a cis-proline. The central beta4-strand is poorly packed, with multiple side-chain rotamers. The Tyr-Met cleavage site is buried in the beta4-strand in the central hydrophobic core, and the Tyr structurally links to the C-terminal alpha6-helix. The alpha6-helix ends in 2 Cys residues that are linked by an unusual vicinal disulfide bond that is buried in a hydrophobic pocket. These features may narrow the force range over which unfolding occurs and may also slow refolding. Von Willebrand disease mutations, which presumably lower the force at which A2 unfolds, are illuminated by the structure.
The selectins are cell adhesion proteins that must resist applied forces to mediate leukocyte tethering and rolling along the endothelium and have 2 conformational states. Selectin-ligand bond dissociation increases only modestly with applied force, and exhibits catch bond behavior in a low-force regime where bond lifetimes counterintuitively increase with increasing force. Both allosteric and sliding-rebinding models have emerged to explain catch bonds. Here, we introduce a large residue into a cleft that opens within the lectin domain to stabilize the more extended, high-affinity selectin conformation. This mutation stabilizes the high-affinity state, but surprisingly makes rolling less stable. The position of the mutation in the lectin domain provides evidence for an allosteric pathway through the lectin domain, connecting changes at the lectin-EGF interface to the distal binding interface.
Three heterozygous mutations were identified in the genes encoding platelet integrin receptor alphaIIbbeta3 in a patient with an ill defined platelet disorder: one in the beta3 gene (S527F) and two in the alphaIIb gene (R512W and L841M). Five stable Chinese hamster ovary cell lines were constructed expressing recombinant alphaIIbbeta3 receptors bearing the individual R512W, L841M, or S527F mutation; both the R512W and L841M mutations; or all three mutations. All receptors were expressed on the cell surface, and mutations R512W and L841M had no effect on integrin function. Interestingly, the beta3 S527F mutation produced a constitutively active receptor. Indeed, both fibrinogen and the ligand-mimetic antibody PAC-1 bound to non-activated alphaIIbbeta3 receptors carrying the S527F mutation, indicating that the conformation of this receptor was altered and corresponded to the high affinity ligand binding state. In addition, the conformational change induced by S527F was evident from basal anti-ligand-induced binding site antibody binding to the receptor. A molecular model bearing this mutation was constructed based on the crystal structure of alphaIIbbeta3 and revealed that the S527F mutation, situated in the third integrin epidermal growth factor-like (I-EGF3) domain, hindered the alphaIIbbeta3 receptor from adopting a wild type-like bent conformation. Movement of I-EGF3 into a cleft in the bent conformation may be hampered both by steric hindrance between Phe(527) in beta3 and the calf-1 domain in alphaIIb and by decreased flexibility between I-EGF2 and I-EGF3.
The activity of integrin LFA-1 (alpha(L)beta(2)) to its ligand ICAM-1 is regulated through the conformational changes of its ligand-binding domain, the I domain of alpha(L) chain, from an inactive, low-affinity closed form (LA), to an intermediate-affinity form (IA), and then finally, to a high-affinity open form (HA). A ligand-mimetic human monoclonal antibody AL-57 (activated LFA-1 clone 57) was identified by phage display to specifically recognize the affinity-upregulated I domain. Here, we describe the crystal structures of the Fab fragment of AL-57 in complex with IA, as well as in its unligated form. We discuss the structural features conferring AL-57's strong selectivity for the high affinity, open conformation of the I domain. The AL-57-binding site overlaps the ICAM-1 binding site on the I domain. Furthermore, an antibody Asp mimics an ICAM Glu by forming a coordination to the metal-ion dependent adhesion site (MIDAS). The structure also reveals better shape complementarity and a more hydrophobic interacting interface in AL-57 binding than in ICAM-1 binding. The results explain AL-57's antagonistic mimicry of LFA-1's natural ligands, the ICAM molecules.
Structures of intact receptors with single-pass transmembrane domains are essential to understand how extracellular and cytoplasmic domains regulate association and signaling through transmembrane domains. A chemical and computational method to determine structures of the membrane regions of such receptors on the cell surface is developed here and validated with glycophorin A. An integrin heterodimer structure reveals association over most of the lengths of the alpha and beta transmembrane domains and shows that the principles governing association of hetero and homo transmembrane dimers differ. A turn at the Gly of the juxtamembrane GFFKR motif caps the alpha TM helix and brings the two Phe of GFFKR into the alpha/beta interface. A juxtamembrane Lys residue in beta also has an important role in the interface. The structure shows how transmembrane association/dissociation regulates integrin signaling. A joint ectodomain and membrane structure shows that substantial flexibility between the extracellular and TM domains is compatible with TM signaling.
Cellular signaling mediated by the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR or ErbB) family of receptor tyrosine kinases plays an important role in regulating normal and oncogenic cellular physiology. While structures of isolated EGFR extracellular domains and intracellular protein tyrosine kinase domains have suggested mechanisms for growth factor-mediated receptor dimerization and allosteric kinase domain activation, understanding how the transmembrane and juxtamembrane domains contribute to transmembrane signaling requires structural studies on intact receptor molecules. In this report, recombinant EGFR constructs containing the extracellular, transmembrane, juxtamembrane, and kinase domains are overexpressed and purified from human embryonic kidney 293 cell cultures. The oligomerization state, overall structure, and functional stability of the purified EGF-bound receptor are characterized in detergent micelles and phospholipid bilayers. In the presence of EGF, catalytically active EGFR dimers can be isolated by gel filtration in dodecyl maltoside. Visualization of the dimeric species by negative stain electron microscopy and single particle averaging reveals an overall structure of the extracellular domain that is similar to previously published crystal structures and is consistent with the C-termini of domain IV being juxtaposed against one another as they enter the transmembrane domain. Although detergent-soluble preparations of EGFR are stable as dimers in the presence of EGF, they exhibit differential functional stability in Triton X-100 versus dodecyl maltoside. Furthermore, the kinase activity can be significantly stabilized by reconstituting purified EGF-bound EGFR dimers in phospholipid nanodiscs or vesicles, suggesting that the environment around the hydrophobic transmembrane and amphipathic juxtamembrane domains is important for stabilizing the tyrosine kinase activity in vitro.
Precise spatial and temporal regulation of cell adhesion and de-adhesion is critical for dynamic lymphocyte migration. Although a great deal of information has been learned about integrin lymphocyte function-associated antigen (LFA)-1 adhesion, the mechanism that regulates efficient LFA-1 de-adhesion from intercellular adhesion molecule (ICAM)-1 during T lymphocyte migration is unknown. Here, we show that nonmuscle myosin heavy chain IIA (MyH9) is recruited to LFA-1 at the uropod of migrating T lymphocytes, and inhibition of the association of MyH9 with LFA-1 results in extreme uropod elongation, defective tail detachment, and decreased lymphocyte migration on ICAM-1, without affecting LFA-1 activation by chemokine CXCL-12. This defect was reversed by a small molecule antagonist that inhibits both LFA-1 affinity and avidity regulation, but not by an antagonist that inhibits only affinity regulation. Total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy of the contact zone between migrating T lymphocytes and ICAM-1 substrate revealed that inactive LFA-1 is selectively localized to the posterior of polarized T lymphocytes, whereas active LFA-1 is localized to their anterior. Thus, during T lymphocyte migration, uropodal adhesion depends on LFA-1 avidity, where MyH9 serves as a key mechanical link between LFA-1 and the cytoskeleton that is critical for LFA-1 de-adhesion.
Hemostasis and thrombosis (blood clotting) involve fibrinogen binding to integrin alpha(IIb)beta(3) on platelets, resulting in platelet aggregation. alpha(v)beta(3) binds fibrinogen via an Arg-Asp-Gly (RGD) motif in fibrinogen's alpha subunit. alpha(IIb)beta(3) also binds to fibrinogen; however, it does so via an unstructured RGD-lacking C-terminal region of the gamma subunit (gammaC peptide). These distinct modes of fibrinogen binding enable alpha(IIb)beta(3) and alpha(v)beta(3) to function cooperatively in hemostasis. In this study, crystal structures reveal the integrin alpha(IIb)beta(3)-gammaC peptide interface, and, for comparison, integrin alpha(IIb)beta(3) bound to a lamprey gammaC primordial RGD motif. Compared with RGD, the GAKQAGDV motif in gammaC adopts a different backbone configuration and binds over a more extended region. The integrin metal ion-dependent adhesion site (MIDAS) Mg(2+) ion binds the gammaC Asp side chain. The adjacent to MIDAS (ADMIDAS) Ca(2+) ion binds the gammaC C terminus, revealing a contribution for ADMIDAS in ligand binding. Structural data from this natively disordered gammaC peptide enhances our understanding of the involvement of gammaC peptide and integrin alpha(IIb)beta(3) in hemostasis and thrombosis.
The complete ectodomain of integrin alpha(IIb)beta(3) reveals a bent, closed, low-affinity conformation, the beta knee, and a mechanism for linking cytoskeleton attachment to high affinity for ligand. Ca and Mg ions in the recognition site, including the synergistic metal ion binding site (SyMBS), are loaded prior to ligand binding. Electrophilicity of the ligand-binding Mg ion is increased in the open conformation. The beta(3) knee passes between the beta(3)-PSI and alpha(IIb)-knob to bury the lower beta leg in a cleft, from which it is released for extension. Different integrin molecules in crystals and EM reveal breathing that appears on pathway to extension. Tensile force applied to the extended ligand-receptor complex stabilizes the closed, low-affinity conformation. By contrast, an additional lateral force applied to the beta subunit to mimic attachment to moving actin filaments stabilizes the open, high-affinity conformation. This mechanism propagates allostery over long distances and couples cytoskeleton attachment of integrins to their high-affinity state.
Integrins are cell surface receptors that transduce signals bidirectionally across the plasma membrane. The key event of integrin signaling is the allosteric regulation between its ligand-binding site and the C-terminal helix (alpha7) of integrin's inserted (I) domain. A significant axial movement of the alpha7 helix is associated with the open, active conformation of integrins. We describe the crystal structure of an engineered high-affinity I domain from the integrin alpha(L)beta(2) (LFA-1) alpha subunit in complex with the N-terminal two domains of ICAM-5, an adhesion molecule expressed in telencephalic neurons. The finding that the alpha7 helix swings out and inserts into a neighboring I domain in an upside-down orientation in the crystals implies an intrinsically unusual mobility of this helix. This remarkable feature allows the alpha7 helix to trigger integrin's large-scale conformational changes with little energy penalty. It serves as a mechanistic example of how a weakly bound adhesion molecule works in signaling.
Trans-cellular migration, the movement of one cell directly through another, seems an unlikely, counterintuitive, and even bizarre process. Trans-cellular migration has been reported for nearly half a century in leukocyte transendothelial migration in vivo, but is not well enough accepted to widely feature in textbook accounts of diapedesis. Recently, the first in vitro and additional in vivo observations of trans-cellular diapedesis have been reported. Mechanisms by which this occurs are just beginning to be elucidated and point to podosome-like protrusive activities in leukocytes and specific fusogenic functions in endothelial cells. Emerging evidence for a quantitatively significant contribution of trans-cellular migration to leukocyte trafficking in increasingly diverse settings suggests that this phenomenon represents an important and physiologic cell biological process.
The interactions between cell surface receptors and sulfated glucosamineglycans serve ubiquitous roles in cell adhesion and receptor signaling. Heparin, a highly sulfated polymer of uronic acids and glucosamine, binds strongly to the integrin receptor alphaXbeta2 (p150,95, CD11c/CD18). Here, we analyze the structural motifs within heparin that constitute high affinity binding sites for the I domain of integrin alphaXbeta2. Heparin oligomers with chain lengths of 10 saccharide residues or higher provide strong inhibition of the binding by the alphaX I domain to the complement fragment iC3b. By contrast, smaller oligomers or the synthetic heparinoid fondaparinux were not able to block the binding. Semipurified heparin oligomers with 12 saccharide residues identified the fully sulfated species as the most potent antagonist of iC3b, with a 1.3 microM affinity for the alphaX I domain. In studies of direct binding by the alphaX I domain to immobilized heparin, we found that the interaction is conformationally regulated and requires Mg2+. Furthermore, the fully sulfated heparin fragment induced conformational change in the ectodomain of the alphaXbeta2 receptor, also demonstrating allosteric linkage between heparin binding and integrin conformation.
Integrins are cell-surface heterodimeric proteins that mediate cell-cell, cell-matrix, and cell-pathogen interactions. Half of the known integrin alpha subunits contain inserted domains (I domains) that coordinate ligand through a metal ion. Although the importance of conformational changes within isolated I domains in regulating ligand binding has been reported, the relationship between metal ion binding affinity and ligand binding affinity has not been elucidated. Metal and ligand binding by several I domain mutants that are stabilized in different conformations are investigated using isothermal titration calorimetry and surface plasmon resonance studies. This work suggests an inverse relationship between metal ion affinity and ligand binding affinity (i.e. constructs with a high affinity for ligand exhibit a low affinity for metal). This trend is discussed in the context of structural studies to provide an understanding of interplay between metal ion binding and ligand affinities and conformational changes.
Adhesion to extracellular ligands through integrins regulates cell shape, migration, growth, and survival. How integrins transmit signals in the outside-to-in direction remains unknown. Whereas in resting integrins the alpha and beta subunit transmembrane domains are associated, ligand binding promotes dissociation and separation of these domains. Here we address whether such separation is required for outside-in signaling. By introduction of an intersubunit disulfide bond, we generated mutant integrin alphaIIbbeta3 with blocked transmembrane separation that binds ligand, mediates adhesion, adopts an extended conformation after ligand binding, and forms antibody-induced macroclusters on the cell surface similarly to wild type. However, the mutant integrin exhibits a profound defect in adhesion-induced outside-in signaling as measured by cell spreading, actin stress-fiber and focal adhesion formation, and focal adhesion kinase activation. This defect was rescued by reduction of the disulfide bond. Our results demonstrate that the separation of transmembrane domains is required for integrin outside-in signal transduction.
The real-time observation of protein dynamics in living cells and organisms is of fundamental importance for understanding biological processes. Most approaches to labeling proteins exploit noncovalent interactions, unsuitable to long-term studies, or genetic fusion to naturally occurring fluorescent proteins that often have unsatisfactory optical properties. Here we used the fungal enzyme cutinase and its suicide substrate p-nitrophenyl phosphonate to covalently attach a variety of labels to the integrin lymphocyte function-associated antigen-1 (LFA-1) on the surface of living cells. Cutinase was embedded in the extracellular domain of LFA-1 with no appreciable influence on integrin function and conformational regulation. p-nitrophenyl phosphonate-conjugated fluorochromes, including the very bright and stable quantum dots, bound efficiently and specifically to LFA-1/cutinase. The availability of a genetically encoded tag that binds covalently to quantum dots could foster the development of new experimental strategies for the study of protein dynamics in vivo.
Integrins are cell adhesion molecules that mediate cell-cell, cell-extracellular matrix, and cell-pathogen interactions. They play critical roles for the immune system in leukocyte trafficking and migration, immunological synapse formation, costimulation, and phagocytosis. Integrin adhesiveness can be dynamically regulated through a process termed inside-out signaling. In addition, ligand binding transduces signals from the extracellular domain to the cytoplasm in the classical outside-in direction. Recent structural, biochemical, and biophysical studies have greatly advanced our understanding of the mechanisms of integrin bidirectional signaling across the plasma membrane. Large-scale reorientations of the ectodomain of up to 200 A couple to conformational change in ligand-binding sites and are linked to changes in alpha and beta subunit transmembrane domain association. In this review, we focus on integrin structure as it relates to affinity modulation, ligand binding, outside-in signaling, and cell surface distribution dynamics.
The Ig superfamily (IgSF) intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) equilibrates between monomeric and dimeric forms on the cell surface, and dimerization enhances cell adhesion. A crystal structure of ICAM-1 IgSF domains (D) 3-5 revealed a unique dimerization interface in which D4s of two protomers fuse through edge beta-strands to form a single super beta-sandwich domain. Here, we describe a crystal structure at 2.7-A resolution of monomeric ICAM-1 D3-D5, stabilized by the monomer-specific Fab CA7. CA7 binds to D5 in a region that is buried in the dimeric interface and is distal from the dimerization site in D4. In monomeric ICAM-1 D3-D5, a 16-residue loop in D4 that is disordered in the dimeric structure could clearly be traced as a BC loop, a short C strand, and a CE meander with a cis-Pro followed by a solvent-exposed, flexible four-residue region. Deletions of 6 or 10 residues showed that the C-strand is essential for monomer stability, whereas a distinct six-residue deletion showed little contribution of the CE meander. Mutation of two inward-pointing Leu residues in edge beta-strand E to Lys increased monomer stability, confirming the hypothesis that inward-pointing charged side chains on edge beta-strands are an important design feature to prevent beta-supersheet formation. Overall, the studies reveal that monomer-dimer transition is associated with a surprisingly large, physiologically relevant, IgSF domain rearrangement.
Despite extensive evidence that integrin conformational changes between bent and extended conformations regulate affinity for ligands, an alternative hypothesis has been proposed in which a "deadbolt" can regulate affinity for ligand in the absence of extension. Here, we tested both the deadbolt and the extension models. According to the deadbolt model, a hairpin loop in the beta3 tail domain could act as a deadbolt to restrain the displacement of the beta3 I domain beta6-alpha7 loop and maintain integrin in the low affinity state. We found that mutating or deleting the beta3 tail domain loop has no effect on ligand binding by either alphaIIbbeta 3 or alphaVbeta3 integrins. In contrast, we found that mutations that lock integrins in the bent conformation with disulfide bonds resist inside-out activation induced by cytoplasmic domain mutation. Furthermore, we demonstrated that extension is required for accessibility to fibronectin but not smaller fragments. The data demonstrate that integrin extension is required for ligand binding during integrin inside-out signaling and that the deadbolt does not regulate integrin activation.