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Physiol Rev. 2003 Jul;83(3):673-86.

Functions of pulmonary epithelial integrins: from development to disease.

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University of California, San Francisco, Box 0854, San Francisco, CA 94143-0854, USA.


Signals from integrins are now known to play critical roles in virtually every aspect of the behavior of epithelial cells, including survival, proliferation, maintenance of polarity, secretory differentiation, and malignant transformation. The cells that line the conducting airways and alveoli of the lung, like most surface epithelia, simultaneously express multiple members of the integrin family, including several with broadly overlapping ligand binding specificities. Although multiple integrins on airway epithelial cells may support adhesion to the same ligands, the functional roles of each integrin that has been examined in detail are quite distinct. Findings from mice expressing null mutations of some of these integrins have identified roles for epithelial cells and epithelial integrins in lung development and in the regulation of lung inflammation, macrophage protease expression, pulmonary fibrosis, and the pulmonary edema that follows acute lung injury. Epithelial integrins are thus attractive targets for intervention in a number of common lung disorders.

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