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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Jan 7;111(1):379-84. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1314209111. Epub 2013 Dec 16.

Dynamic control of β1 integrin adhesion by the plexinD1-sema3E axis.

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Laboratory of Immunobiology and Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115.


Plexins and semaphorins comprise a large family of receptor-ligand pairs controlling cell guidance in nervous, immune, and vascular systems. How plexin regulation of neurite outgrowth, lymphoid trafficking, and vascular endothelial cell branching is linked to integrin function, central to most directed movement, remains unclear. Here we show that on developing thymocytes, plexinD1 controls surface topology of nanometer-scaled β1 integrin adhesion domains in cis, whereas its ligation by sema3E in trans regulates individual β1 integrin catch bonds. Loss of plexinD1 expression reduces β1 integrin clustering, thereby diminishing avidity, whereas sema3E ligation shortens individual integrin bond lifetimes under force to reduce stability. Consequently, both decreased expression of plexinD1 during developmental progression and a thymic medulla-emanating sema3E gradient enhance thymocyte movement toward the medulla, thus enforcing the orchestrated lymphoid trafficking required for effective immune repertoire selection. Our results demonstrate plexin-tunable molecular features of integrin adhesion with broad implications for many cellular processes.


autoimmunity; central tolerance; integrin activation; mechanobiology; thymocyte development

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