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J Cell Biol. 2005 Mar 28;168(7):1109-18.

Three-dimensional EM structure of the ectodomain of integrin {alpha}V{beta}3 in a complex with fibronectin.

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Department of Cell Biology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


Integrins are alphabeta heterodimeric cell surface receptors that mediate transmembrane signaling by binding extracellular and cytoplasmic ligands. The ectodomain of integrin alphaVbeta3 crystallizes in a bent, genuflexed conformation considered to be inactive (unable to bind physiological ligands in solution) unless it is fully extended by activating stimuli. We generated a stable, soluble complex of the Mn(2+)-bound alphaVbeta3 ectodomain with a fragment of fibronectin (FN) containing type III domains 7 to 10 and the EDB domain (FN7-EDB-10). Transmission electron microscopy and single particle image analysis were used to determine the three-dimensional structure of this complex. Most alphaVbeta3 particles, whether unliganded or FN-bound, displayed compact, triangular shapes. A difference map comparing ligand-free and FN-bound alphaVbeta3 revealed density that could accommodate the RGD-containing FN10 in proximity to the ligand-binding site of beta3, with FN9 just adjacent to the synergy site binding region of alphaV. We conclude that the ectodomain of alphaVbeta3 manifests a bent conformation that is capable of stably binding a physiological ligand in solution.

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