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J Biol Chem. 1995 Sep 29;270(39):23196-202.

The human integrin alpha 8 beta 1 functions as a receptor for tenascin, fibronectin, and vitronectin.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco 94143, USA.


The integrin family of adhesion receptors consists of at least 21 heterodimeric transmembrane proteins that differ in their tissue distribution and ligand specificity. The recently identified alpha 8 integrin subunit associates with beta 1 and is predominantly expressed in smooth muscle and other contractile cells in adult tissues, and in mesenchymal and neural cells during development. We now show that alpha 8 beta 1 specifically localizes to focal contacts in cells plated on the extracellular matrix proteins fibronectin or vitronectin. In addition we show that human embryonic kidney cells (293), transfected with alpha 8 cDNA, express alpha 8 beta 1 on their surface and use this receptor for adhesion to fibronectin and vitronectin. Furthermore, alpha 8 beta 1 binds to both fibronectin- and vitronectin-Sepharose and can be specifically eluted from either matrix protein by the arginine-glycine-aspartic acid (RGD)-containing peptide, GRGDSP. Because fibronectin and vitronectin adhesion appeared to be mediated by RGD, we examined additional RGD-containing proteins, including tenascin, fibrinogen, thrombospondin, osteopontin, and denatured collagen type I. We found that only tenascin was able to mediate adhesion of alpha 8-transfected 293 cells. By using recombinant fragments of tenascin in adhesion assays, we were able to localize the alpha 8 beta 1 binding domain of tenascin to the RGD-containing third fibronectin type III repeat. These data strongly suggest that tenascin, fibronectin, and vitronectin are ligands for alpha 8 beta 1 and that this integrin binds to the RGD site in each of these ligands through mechanisms that are distinct and separate from alpha 5- and alpha v-containing integrins.

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