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Trends Cell Biol. 1991 Jul;1(1):2-4.

The internal affairs of an integrin.

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Department of Immunology, Research Institute of Scripps Clinic, 10666 North Torrey Pines Rd, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


Integrins are adhesion receptors that exchange signals between the extracellular and intracellular compartments. From their cell surface transmembrane location, they interact with extracellular matrix ligands or cellular counter-receptors, translating external cues into signals that affect cytoskeletal organization, cell shape and motility. Conversely, intracellular events may modify the affinities of integrins for external ligands. Inside the cell, integrins connect with cytoskeletal structures that, until recently, were thought to be exclusively actin microfilaments. We comment on the case of the epithelial integrin, alpha(6)beta(4), which may instead interact with intermediate filaments. This integrin was recently shown by several laboratories to be part of the hemidesmosome complex, an epithelial adhesive structure that is the plasma membrane anchoring site for keratin-containing intermediate filaments.

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