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Mol Biol Cell. 2002 Sep;13(9):3203-17.

alpha4beta1 integrin regulates lamellipodia protrusion via a focal complex/focal adhesion-independent mechanism.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.


alpha4beta1 integrin plays an important role in cell migration. We show that when ectopically expressed in Chinese hamster ovary cells, alpha4beta1 is sufficient and required for promoting protrusion of broad lamellipodia in response to scratch-wounding, whereas alpha5beta1 does not have this effect. By time-lapse microscopy of cells expressing an alpha4/green fluorescent protein fusion protein, we show that alpha4beta1 forms transient puncta at the leading edge of cells that begin to protrude lamellipodia in response to scratch-wounding. The cells expressing a mutant alpha4/green fluorescent protein that binds paxillin at a reduced level had a faster response to scratch-wounding, forming alpha4-positive puncta and protruding lamellipodia much earlier. While enhancing lamellipodia protrusion, this mutation reduces random motility of the cells in Transwell assays, indicating that lamellipodia protrusion and random motility are distinct types of motile activities that are differentially regulated by interactions between alpha4beta1 and paxillin. Finally, we show that, at the leading edge, alpha4-positive puncta and paxillin-positive focal complexes/adhesions do not colocalize, but alpha4beta1 and paxillin colocalize partially in ruffles. These findings provide evidence for a specific role of alpha4beta1 in lamellipodia protrusion that is distinct from the motility-promoting functions of alpha5beta1 and other integrins that mediate cell adhesion and signaling events through focal complexes and focal adhesions.

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