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Microsc Res Tech. 2000 Oct 15;51(2):169-78.

Integrins as mediators of epithelial cell-matrix interactions in the human small intestinal mucosa.

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MRC Group in Functional Development and Physiopathology of the Digestive Tract, Département d'anatomie et de biologie cellulaire, Faculté de médecine, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Qué., Canada.


The intestinal epithelium is a highly dynamic tissue, which depends on a variety of factors for the regulation of its rapid renewal and expression of digestive functions. Over the last 10 years, it has become evident that among these factors are cell interactions with the extracellular matrix, more specifically with the underlying basement membrane, through a series of specific cell membrane receptors, many of which are integrins. Integrins regulate the assembly of adhesive junctions as well as the activation of various signaling pathways, leading to the modulation of gene expression. The analysis of the integrin repertoire along the crypt-villus axis in the human small intestinal epithelium identifies a number of beta1 and beta4 integrins, showing differential patterns of expression relative to its two functional compartments. Among them are the integrins alpha3beta1, alpha7Bbeta1 and the functional form of alpha6beta4 that appear to be related, in concert with the distribution of their ligands, to the process of intestinal cell differentiation, and the integrins alpha2beta1, alpha1beta1, alpha5beta1, and the non-functional form of alpha6beta4 that seem to be coupled with the undifferentiated/proliferative status of crypt cells. These observations delineate the potential complexity of the organization of epithelial cell-matrix interactions involved in the maintenance of the human intestinal crypt-villus axis.

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