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J Biol Chem. 2002 Jun 7;277(23):20887-94. Epub 2002 Mar 27.

A fragment of paxillin binds the alpha 4 integrin cytoplasmic domain (tail) and selectively inhibits alpha 4-mediated cell migration.

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Department of Vascular Biology and Cell Biology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California 92037, USA.


The alpha(4) integrins play important roles in embryogenesis, hematopoiesis, cardiac development, and the immune responses. The alpha(4) integrin subunit is indispensable for these biological processes, possibly because the alpha(4) subunit regulates cellular functions differently from other integrin alpha subunits. We have previously reported that the alpha(4) cytoplasmic domain directly and tightly binds paxillin, an intracellular signaling adaptor molecule, and this interaction accounts for some of the unusual functional responses to alpha(4) integrin-mediated cell adhesion. We also have identified a conserved 9-amino acid region (Glu(983)-Tyr(991)) in the alpha(4) cytoplasmic domain that is sufficient for paxillin binding, and an alanine substitution at either Glu(983) or Tyr(991) within this region disrupted the alpha(4)-paxillin interaction and reversed the effects of the alpha(4) cytoplasmic domain on cell spreading and migration. In the current study, we have mapped the alpha(4)-binding site within paxillin using mutational analysis, and examined its effects on the alpha(4) tail-mediated functional responses. Here we report that sequences between residues Ala(176) and Asp(275) of paxillin are sufficient for binding to the alpha(4) tail. We found that the alpha(4) tail, paxillin, and FAT, the focal adhesion targeting domain of pp125(FAK), could form a ternary complex and that the alpha(4)-binding paxillin fragment, P(Ala(176)-Asp(275)), specifically blocked paxillin binding to the alpha(4) tail more efficiently than it blocked binding to FAT. Furthermore, when expressed in cells, this alpha(4)-binding paxillin fragment specifically inhibited the alpha(4) tail-stimulated cell migration. Thus, paxillin binding to the alpha(4) tail leads to enhanced cell migration and inhibition of the alpha(4)-paxillin interaction selectively blocks the alpha4-dependent cellular responses.

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