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J Immunol. 1998 May 1;160(9):4508-17.

Analysis of ligand-induced and ligand-attenuated epitopes on the leukocyte integrin alpha4beta1: VCAM-1, mucosal addressin cell adhesion molecule-1, and fibronectin induce distinct conformational changes.

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  • 1Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell-Matrix Research, School of Biological Sciences, University of Manchester, United Kingdom.


The leukocyte integrin alpha4beta1 is a receptor for both cell surface ligands (VCAM-1 and mucosal addressin cell adhesion molecule-1 (MAdCAM-1)) and extracellular matrix components (fibronectin). Through regulated interactions with these molecules, alpha4beta1 mediates leukocyte migration from the vasculature at sites of inflammation. Regulation of integrin activity plays a key role in controlling leukocyte-adhesive events and appears to be partly determined by changes in integrin conformation. Several mAbs that recognize ligand-induced binding site epitopes on integrins have been characterized, and a subset of these mAbs are capable of stimulating integrin-ligand binding. Conversely, some mAbs recognize epitopes that are attenuated by ligand engagement and allosterically inhibit ligand binding. To gain insight into ligand-specific effects on integrin conformation, we have examined the ability of different ligands to modulate the binding of four distinct classes (A, B1, B2, and C) of anti-alpha4 Abs to alpha4beta1. VCAM-1 attenuated B (antifunctional) class epitopes via an allosteric mechanism and also allosterically inhibited the binding of the function-blocking anti-beta1 mAb 13. Additional alpha4beta1 ligands (fibronectin fragments, MAdCAM-1, and the CS1 peptide) also inhibited mAb 13-integrin binding; however, the epitopes of the class B anti-alpha4 mAbs were attenuated by the fibronectin fragments, but not by MAdCAM-1 or the CS1 peptide. Of the two anti-alpha4 class A mAbs examined, one recognized an epitope that was induced uniquely by VCAM-1. Taken together, these data suggest that overlapping but distinct binding mechanisms exist for different alpha4beta1 ligands and that distinct conformational changes are induced upon integrin engagement by different ligands.

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