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Blood Rev. 1990 Dec;4(4):211-25.

Leucocyte cellular adhesion molecules.

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  • 1Department of Haematology, University College and Middlesex School of Medicine, London, UK.


Leucocytes express adhesion promoting receptors which mediate cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions. These adhesive interactions are crucial to the regulation of haemopoiesis and thymocyte maturation, the direction and control of leucocyte traffic and migration through tissues, and in the development of immune and non-immune inflammatory responses. Several families of adhesion receptors have been identified (Table). The leucocyte integrin family comprises 3 alpha beta heterodimeric membrane glycoproteins which share a common beta subunit, designated CD18. The alpha subunits of each of the 3 members, lymphocyte function associated antigen-1 (LFA-1), macrophage antigen-1 (Mac-1) and p150,95 are designated CD11a, b and c respectively. These adhesion molecules play a critical part in the immune and inflammatory responses of leucocytes. The leucocyte integrin family is, in turn, part of the integrin superfamily, members of which are evolutionally, structurally and functionally related. Another Integrin subfamily found on leucocytes is the VLA group, so-called because the 'very late activation antigens' VLA-1 and VLA-2 were originally found to appear late in T-cell activation. Members of this family function mainly as extracellular matrix adhesion receptors and are found both on haemopoietic and non-haemopoietic cells. They play a part in diverse cellular functions including tissue organisation, lymphocyte recirculation and T-cell immune responses. A third integrin subfamily, the cytoadhesins, are receptors on platelets and endothelial cells which bind extracellular matrix proteins. A second family of adhesion receptors is the immunoglobulin superfamily, members of which include CD2, LFA-3 and ICAM-1, which participate in T-cell adhesive interactions, and the antigen-specific receptors of T and B cells, CD4, CD8 and the MHC Class I and II molecules. A recently recognised family of adhesion receptors is the selectins, characterised by a common lectin domain. Leucocyte adhesion molecule-1 (LAM-1), which is the human homologue of the murine homing receptor, MEL-14, is expressed on leucocytes, while endothelial leucocyte adhesion molecule-1 (ELAM-1) and granule membrane protein (GMP-140) are expressed on stimulated endothelial cells and activated platelets. This review will be confined to adhesion receptors found on leucocytes, with particular emphasis on the leucocyte integrins.

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