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J Innate Immun. 2009;1(1):4-17. doi: 10.1159/000141865. Epub 2008 Jun 25.

The role of epithelial integrin receptors in recognition of pulmonary pathogens.

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  • 1Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ont., Canada.


Integrins are a large family of heterodimeric transmembrane cell adhesion receptors. During the last decade, it has become clear that integrins significantly participate in various host-pathogen interactions involving pathogenic bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Many bacteria possess adhesins that can bind either directly or indirectly to integrins. However, there appears to be an emerging role for integrins beyond simply adhesion molecules. Given the conserved nature of integrin structure and function, and the diversity of the pathogens which use integrins, it appears that they may act as pattern recognition receptors important for the innate immune response. Several clinically significant bacterial pathogens target lung epithelial integrins, and this review will focus on exploring various structures and mechanisms involved in these interactions.

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