Integrins are transmembrane receptors formed by non-covalently bound alpha and beta subunits. The beta-1 subunit binds 12 alpha subunits, suggesting that specificity of function of alpha-beta-1 integrins are determined by the alpha subunits. This is seen in the two major collagen binding receptors, integrins alpha-1-beta-1 and alpha-2-beta-1, which not only have different affinities for various collagens (determined by their extracellular domains), but also mediate different signals in a manner that is critically dependent on their transmembrane (TM) and cytoplasmic (CT) domains. The molecular mechanisms whereby the TM and CT domains of beta-1 containing integrins transduce signals are poorly understood, as most published work on these domains was performed with the highly modulatable alpha-s-beta-3 integrins and focused primarily on the beta-3 subunit itself. We recently showed that integrin alpha-1 and alpha-2 TM and CT domains contribute to the very different specificities of integrin alpha-1-beta-1 and alpha-2-beta-1 function. Moreover, key amino acids that regulate specific signaling by the integrin alpha-1 and alpha-2 CT tails have been identified. Thus, the overall goal of this project is to identify the mechanisms whereby the TM and CT domains of integrins alpha-1-beta-1 and alpha-2-beta-1 contribute to their functional specificity. In particular, we will test the hypothesis that specific residues within the TM or CT domains of integrins alpha-1-beta-1 and alpha-2-beta-1 are critical for conferring structural and functional specificity. To test this hypothesis we will:
Aim 1) Determine the structures of the individual integral alpha-1, alpha-2, and beta-1 TM/CT domains and of the alpha-1-beta-1 and alpha-2-beta-1 TM/CT heterodimers.
Aim 2) Determine the critical amino acids that govern the specificity and functionality of the alpha-1 and alpha-2 TM domains of integrins alpha-1-beta-1 and alpha-2-beta-1 in cell function.
Aim 3) Develop models for the roles of the TM/CD domains in integrin alpha-1-beta-1 and alpha-2-beta-1 function and specificity.
We anticipate that this study will generate novel insights into the structural basis whereby the TM and CT domains of integrins alpha-1-beta-1 and alpha-2-beta-1 function. This knowledge is fundamental to our understanding of how integrins transduce signals from collagens within the glomerulus in both health and disease.
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