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Braz J Med Biol Res. 2005 Oct;38(10):1513-20. Epub 2005 Sep 6.

Disintegrins: integrin selective ligands which activate integrin-coupled signaling and modulate leukocyte functions.

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  • 1Departamento de Farmacologia, Instituto de Biologia Roberto Alcântara Gomes, Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil. barja-fidalgo@uerj.br

Abstract

Extracellular matrix proteins and cell adhesion receptors (integrins) play essential roles in the regulation of cell adhesion and migration. Interactions of integrins with the extracellular matrix proteins lead to phosphorylation of several intracellular proteins such as focal adhesion kinase, activating different signaling pathways responsible for the regulation of a variety of cell functions, including cytoskeleton mobilization. Once leukocytes are guided to sites of infection, inflammation, or antigen presentation, integrins can participate in the initiation, maintenance, or termination of the immune and inflammatory responses. The modulation of neutrophil activation through integrin-mediated pathways is important in the homeostatic control of the resolution of inflammatory states. In addition, during recirculation, T lymphocyte movement through distinct microenvironments is mediated by integrins, which are critical for cell cycle, differentiation and gene expression. Disintegrins are a family of low-molecular weight, cysteine-rich peptides first identified in snake venom, usually containing an RGD (Arg-Gly-Asp) motif, which confers the ability to selectively bind to integrins, inhibiting integrin-related functions in different cell systems. In this review we show that, depending on the cell type and the microenvironment, disintegrins are able to antagonize the effects of integrins or to act agonistically by activating integrin-mediated signaling. Disintegrins have proven useful as tools to improve the understanding of the molecular events regulated by integrin signaling in leukocytes and prototypes in order to design therapies able to interfere with integrin-mediated effects.

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