Integrins are a structurally elaborate family of adhesion molecules that transmit signals bi-directionally across the plasma membrane by undergoing large-scale structural rearrangements. By regulating cell-cell and cell-matrix contacts, integrins participate in a wide range of biological processes, including development, tissue repair, angiogenesis, inflammation and haemostasis. From a therapeutic standpoint, integrins are probably the most important class of cell-adhesion receptors. Recent progress in the development of integrin antagonists has resulted in their clinical application and has shed new light on integrin biology. On the basis of their mechanism of action, small-molecule integrin antagonists fall into three different classes. Each of these classes affect the equilibria that relate integrin conformational states, but in different ways.
Conformational changes in integrins are important for efficient ligand binding during activation. We proposed that the I domain of the integrin lymphocyte function-associated antigen 1 (LFA-1) could exist in both open and closed conformations and generated constitutively activated LFA-1 by locking the I domain in the open conformation. Here we provide structural and biochemical evidence to validate conformational change in the I domain of LFA-1 upon activation. Two monoclonal antibodies to alpha(L), HI111 and CBR LFA-1/1, bind wild-type LFA-1 well, but their binding is significantly reduced when LFA-1 is locked in the open conformation. Furthermore, this reduction in monoclonal antibody binding also occurs when LFA-1 is activated by divalent cations. HI111 maps to the top region of the I domain that is close to the putative ligand-binding site surrounding the MIDAS (metal ion-dependent adhesion site). The epitope of CBR LFA-1/1 is at the C-terminal segment of the I domain that links to the beta-propeller, and undergoes a large movement between the open and closed conformations. Our data demonstrate that these two regions undergo significant conformational changes during LFA-1 activation and that the I domain of activated LFA-1 adopts a similar tertiary structure as the predicted locked open form.
The surface layer of archaeobacteria protects cells from extreme environments and, in Methanosarcina, may regulate cell adhesion. We identify three domain types that account for the complete architecture of numerous Methanosarcina surface layer proteins (SLPs). We solve the crystal structure for two of these domains, which correspond to the two N-terminal domains of an M. mazei SLP. One domain displays a unique, highly symmetrical, seven-bladed beta propeller fold, and the other belongs to the polycystic kidney disease (PKD) superfamily fold. The third domain is predicted to adopt a beta helix fold. These domains have homologs in metazoan cell surface proteins, suggesting remarkable relationships between domains in archaeal SLPs and metazoan cell surface proteins.
We previously reported that certain glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) bind secondary lymphoid tissue chemokine (SLC, CCL21) and that the SLC-binding GAGs, including chondroitin sulfate B (CS B), negatively modulate the function of SLC, although the mechanism remains unknown [J. Biol. Chem. 276 (2001) 5228]. To gain insight into the mechanism of inhibition, we used a C-terminally truncated SLC (SLC-T) that lacked clusters of basic amino acid residues that have been implicated in GAG binding. While SLC-T failed to bind any GAGs, it induced prominent intracellular Ca(2+) mobilization in CC chemokine receptor (CCR) 7-expressing cells, as did wild-type SLC. However, the SLC-T-induced Ca(2+) influx was not inhibited by CS B, unlike the SLC-induced Ca(2+) influx. These results demonstrate the requirement of the C-terminus of SLC for the inhibition of chemokine responses by CS B; that is, CS B exerts its inhibitory effect by binding to the C-terminus of SLC, thus defining the mode of action of CS B on certain chemokines.
Integrins are a structurally elaborate family of heterodimers that mediate divalent cation-dependent cell adhesion in a wide range of biological contexts. The inserted (I) domain binds ligand in the subset of integrins in which it is present. Its structure has been determined in two alternative conformations, termed open and closed. In striking similarity to signaling G proteins, rearrangement of a Mg(2+)-binding site is linked to large conformational movements in distant backbone regions. Mutations have been used to stabilize either the closed or open structures. These show that the snapshots of the open conformation seen only in the presence of a ligand or a ligand mimetic represent a high-affinity, ligand-binding conformation, whereas those of the closed conformation correspond to a low-affinity conformation. The C-terminal alpha-helix moves 10 A down the side of the domain in the open conformation. Locking in the conformation of the preceding loop is sufficient to increase affinity for ligand 9000-fold. This C-terminal "bell-rope" provides a mechanism for linkage to conformational movements in other domains. The transition from the closed to open conformation has been implicated in fast (<1 s) regulation of integrin affinity in response to activation signals from inside the cell. Recent integrin structures and functional studies reveal interactions between beta-propeller, I, and I-like domains in the headpiece, and a critical role for integrin EGF domains in the stalk region. These studies suggest that the headpiece of the integrin faces down toward the membrane in the inactive conformation and extends upward in a "switchblade"-like opening motion upon activation. These long-range structural rearrangements of the entire integrin molecule involving multiple interdomain contacts appear closely linked to conformational changes in the I domain, which result in increased affinity and competence for ligand binding.
Cysteine-rich repeats in the integrin beta subunit stalk region relay activation signals to the ligand-binding headpiece. The NMR solution structure and disulfide bond connectivity of Cys-rich module-3 of the integrin beta2 subunit reveal a nosecone-shaped variant of the EGF fold, termed an integrin-EGF (I-EGF) domain. Interdomain contacts between I-EGF domains 2 and 3 observed by NMR support a model in which the modules are related by an approximate two-fold screw axis in an extended arrangement. Our findings complement a 3.1 A crystal structure of the extracellular portion of integrin alphaVbeta3, which lacks an atomic model for I-EGF2 and a portion of I-EGF3. The disulfide connectivity of I-EGF3 chemically assigned here differs from the pairings suggested in the alphaVbeta3 structure. Epitopes that become exposed upon integrin activation and residues that restrain activation are defined in beta2 I-EGF domains 2 and 3. Superposition on the alphaVbeta3 structure reveals that they are buried. This observation suggests that the highly bent alphaVbeta3 structure represents the inactive conformation and that release of contacts with I-EGF modules 2 and 3 triggers a switchblade-like opening motion extending the integrin into its active conformation.
Methanogenesis, the biological production of methane, plays a pivotal role in the global carbon cycle and contributes significantly to global warming. The majority of methane in nature is derived from acetate. Here we report the complete genome sequence of an acetate-utilizing methanogen, Methanosarcina acetivorans C2A. Methanosarcineae are the most metabolically diverse methanogens, thrive in a broad range of environments, and are unique among the Archaea in forming complex multicellular structures. This diversity is reflected in the genome of M. acetivorans. At 5,751,492 base pairs it is by far the largest known archaeal genome. The 4524 open reading frames code for a strikingly wide and unanticipated variety of metabolic and cellular capabilities. The presence of novel methyltransferases indicates the likelihood of undiscovered natural energy sources for methanogenesis, whereas the presence of single-subunit carbon monoxide dehydrogenases raises the possibility of nonmethanogenic growth. Although motility has not been observed in any Methanosarcineae, a flagellin gene cluster and two complete chemotaxis gene clusters were identified. The availability of genetic methods, coupled with its physiological and metabolic diversity, makes M. acetivorans a powerful model organism for the study of archaeal biology. [Sequence, data, annotations and analyses are available at http://www-genome.wi.mit.edu/.]
How ligand binding alters integrin conformation in outside-in signaling, and how inside-out signals alter integrin affinity for ligand, have been mysterious. We address this with electron microscopy, physicochemical measurements, mutational introduction of disulfides, and ligand binding to alphaVbeta3 and alphaIIbbeta3 integrins. We show that a highly bent integrin conformation is physiological and has low affinity for biological ligands. Addition of a high affinity ligand mimetic peptide or Mn(2+) results in a switchblade-like opening to an extended structure. An outward swing of the hybrid domain at its junction with the I-like domain shows conformational change within the headpiece that is linked to ligand binding. Breakage of a C-terminal clasp between the alpha and beta subunits enhances Mn(2+)-induced unbending and ligand binding.
Among adhesion receptor families, integrins are particularly important in biological processes that require rapid modulation of adhesion and de-adhesion. Activation on a timescale of < 1 s of beta2 integrins on leukocytes and beta3 integrins on platelets enables deposition of these cells at sites of inflammation or vessel wall injury. Recent crystal, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), and electron microscope (EM) structures of integrins and their domains lead to a unifying mechanism of activation for both integrins that contain and those that lack an inserted (I) domain. The I domain adopts two alternative conformations, termed open and closed. In striking similarity to signaling G-proteins, rearrangement of a Mg2+-binding site is linked to large conformational movements in distant backbone regions. Mutations that stabilize a particular conformation show that the open conformation has high affinity for ligand, whereas the closed conformation has low affinity. Movement of the C-terminal alpha-helix 10 A down the side of the domain in the open conformation is sufficient to increase affinity at the distal ligand-binding site 9,000-fold. This C-terminal "bell-rope" provides a mechanism for linkage to conformational movements in other domains. Recent structures and functional studies reveal interactions between beta-propeller, I, and I-like domains in the integrin headpiece, and a critical role for integrin epidermal growth factor (EGF) domains in the stalk region. The headpiece of the integrin faces down towards the membrane in the inactive conformation, and extends upward in a "switchblade"-like opening upon activation. These long-range structural rearrangements of the entire integrin molecule involving interdomain contacts appear closely linked to conformational changes within the I and I-like domains, which result in increased affinity and competence for ligand binding.
Icap1 alpha is a 200-amino acid protein that binds to the COOH-terminal 13 amino acids ((786)AVTTVVNPKYEGK(798)) of the integrin beta(1) subunit. Alanine scanning mutagenesis of this region revealed that Val(787), Val(790), and (792)NPKY(795) are critical for Icap1 alpha binding. The NPXY motif is a known binding substrate for phosphotyrosine binding (PTB) domain proteins. The sequences of Icap1 alpha, residues 58--200, and the beta(1) integrin, residues 786-797, were aligned to the available PTB-peptide structures to generate a high quality structural model. Site-directed mutagenesis showed that Leu(135), Ile(138), and Ile(139) of Icap1 alpha, residues predicted by the model to be in close proximity to (792)NPKY(795), and Leu(82) and Tyr(144), residues expected to form a hydrophobic pocket near Val(787), are required for the Icap1 alpha-beta(1) integrin interaction. These findings indicate that Icap1 alpha is a PTB domain protein, which recognizes the NPXY motif of beta(1) integrin. Furthermore, our date suggest that an interaction between Val(787) and the hydrophobic pocket created by Leu(82) and Tyr(144) of Icap1 alpha forms the basis for the specificity of Icap1 alpha for the beta(1) integrin subunit.
Integrins and other cell surface receptors have been fertile grounds for structure prediction experiments. Recently determined structures show remarkable successes, especially with beta-propeller domain predictions, and also reveal how ligand binding by integrins is conformationally regulated.
Most T lymphocytes are generated within the thymus. It is unclear, however, how newly generated T cells relocate out of the thymus to the circulation. The present study shows that a CC chemokine CCL19 attracts mature T cells out of the fetal thymus organ culture. Another CC chemokine CCL21, which shares CCR7 with CCL19 but has a unique C-terminal extension containing positively charged amino acids, failed to show involvement in thymic emigration. Neonatal appearance of circulating T cells was defective in CCL19-neutralized mice as well as in CCR7-deficient mice but not in CCL21-neutralized mice. In the thymus, CCL19 is predominantly localized in the medulla including endothelial venules. These results indicate a CCL19- and CCR7-dependent pathway of thymic emigration, which represents a major pathway of neonatal T cell export.
Integrin beta subunits contain a highly conserved I-like domain that is known to be important for ligand binding. Unlike integrin I domains, the I-like domain requires integrin alpha and beta subunit association for optimal folding. Pactolus is a novel gene product that is highly homologous to integrin beta subunits but lacks associating alpha subunits [Chen, Y., Garrison, S., Weis, J. J., and Weis, J. H. (1998) J. Biol. Chem. 273, 8711-8718] and a approximately 30 amino acid segment corresponding to the specificity-determining loop (SDL) in the I-like domain. We find that the SDL is responsible for the defects in integrin beta subunit expression and folding in the absence of alpha subunits. When transfected in the absence of alpha subunits into cells, extracellular domains of mutant beta subunits lacking SDL, but not wild-type beta subunits, were well secreted and contained immunoreactive I-like domains. The purified recombinant soluble beta1 subunit with the SDL deletion showed an elongated shape in electron microscopy, consistent with its structure in alphabeta complexes. The SDL segment is not required for formation of alpha5beta1, alpha4beta1, alphaVbeta3, and alpha6beta4 heterodimers, but is essential for fomation of alpha6beta1, alphaVbeta1, and alphaLbeta2 heterodimers, suggesting that usage of subunit interface residues is variable among integrins. The beta1 SDL is required for ligand binding and for the formation of the epitope for the alpha5 monoclonal antibody 16 that maps to loop segments connecting blades 2 and 3 of beta-propeller domain of alpha5, but is not essential for nearby beta-propeller epitopes.
Conformational movement of the C-terminal alpha7 helix in the integrin inserted (I) domain, a major ligand-binding domain that adopts an alpha/beta Rossmann fold, has been proposed to allosterically regulate ligand-binding activity. Disulfide bonds were engineered here to reversibly lock the position of the alpha7 helix in one of two alternative conformations seen in crystal structures, termed open and closed. Our results show that pairs of residues with Cbeta atoms farther apart than optimal for disulfide bond stereochemistry can be successfully replaced by cysteine, suggesting that backbone movement accommodates disulfide formation. We also find more success with substituting partially exposed than buried residues. Disulfides stabilizing the open conformation resulted in constitutively active alphaMbeta2 heterodimers and isolated alphaM inserted domains, which were reverted to an inactive form by dithiothreitol reduction. By contrast, a disulfide stabilizing the closed conformation resulted in inactive alphaMbeta2 that was resistant to activation but became activatable after dithiothreitol treatment.
The integrin lymphocyte function-associated antigen-1 (alpha(L)beta(2)), which is known for its ability to mediate firm adhesion and migration, can also contribute to tethering and rolling in shear flow. The alpha(L) I domain can be mutationally locked with disulfide bonds into two distinct conformations, open and closed, which have high and low affinity for the ligand intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1), respectively. The wild type I domain exists primarily in the lower energy closed conformation. We have measured for the first time the effect of conformational change on adhesive behavior in shear flow. We show that wild type and locked open I domains, expressed in alpha(L)beta(2) heterodimers or as isolated domains on the cell surface, mediate rolling adhesion and firm adhesion, respectively. alpha(L)beta(2) is thus poised for the conversion of rolling to firm adhesion upon integrin activation in vivo. Isolated I domains are surprisingly more effective than alpha(L)beta(2) in interactions in shear flow, which may in part be a consequence of the presence of alpha(L)beta(2) in a bent conformation. Furthermore, the force exerted on the C-terminal alpha-helix appears to stabilize the open conformation of the wild type isolated I domain and contribute to its robustness in supporting rolling. An allosteric small molecule antagonist of alpha(L)beta(2) inhibits both rolling adhesion and firm adhesion, which has important implications for its mode of action in vivo.
The leukocyte integrin alpha(X)beta(2) (p150,95) recognizes the iC3b complement fragment and functions as the complement receptor type 4. alpha(X)beta(2) is more resistant to activation than other beta(2) integrins and is inactive in transfected cells. However, when human alpha(X) is paired with chicken or mouse beta(2), alpha(X)beta(2) is activated for binding to iC3b. Activating substitutions were mapped to individual residues or groups of residues in the N-terminal plexin/semaphorin/integrin (PSI) domain and C-terminal cysteine-rich repeats 2 and 3. These regions are linked by a long range disulfide bond. Substitutions in the PSI domain synergized with substitutions in the cysteine-rich repeats. Substitutions T4P, T22A, Q525S, and V526L gave full activation. Activation of binding to iC3b correlated with exposure of the CBR LFA-1/2 epitope in cysteine-rich repeat 3. The data suggest that the activating substitutions are present in an interface that restrains the human alpha(X)/human beta(2) integrin in the inactive state. The opening of this interface is linked to structural rearrangements in other domains that activate ligand binding.
Several distinct regions of the integrin alpha(IIb) subunit have been implicated in ligand binding. To localize the ligand binding sites in alpha(IIb), we swapped all 27 predicted loops with the corresponding sequences of alpha(4) or alpha(5). 19 of the 27 swapping mutations had no effect on binding to both fibrinogen and ligand-mimetic antibodies (e.g. LJ-CP3), suggesting that these regions do not contain major ligand binding sites. In contrast, swapping the remaining 8 predicted loops completely blocked ligand binding. Ala scanning mutagenesis of these critical predicted loops identified more than 30 discontinuous residues in repeats 2-4 and at the boundary between repeats 4 and 5 as critical for ligand binding. Interestingly, these residues are clustered in the predicted beta-propeller model, consistent with this model. Most of the critical residues are located at the edge of the upper face of the propeller, and several critical residues are located on the side of the propeller domain. None of the predicted loops in repeats 1, 6, and 7, and none of the four putative Ca(2+)-binding predicted loops on the lower surface of the beta-propeller were important for ligand binding. The results map an important ligand binding interface at the edge of the top and on the side of the beta-propeller toroid, centering on repeat 3.