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J Leukoc Biol. 1993 Mar;53(3):342-6.

Location of the domains of ICAM-1 by immunolabeling and single-molecule electron microscopy.

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  • 1Center for Blood Research, Department of Anatomy and Cellular Biology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115.


Intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1), a member of the immunoglobulin gene superfamily, is a cell surface glycoprotein with an extracellular domain comprising five immunoglobulin-like domains. Soluble ICAM-1, a recombinant protein truncated at the transmembrane domain, has a rod-like shape, 19 nm long overall, with a characteristic bend 7.6 nm from one end of the molecule. Because the link between domain D2 and domain D3 is proline rich, it has been proposed that the short arm contains domains D1 and D2 and the long arm contains domains D3-D5. We used single-molecule electron microscopy of soluble ICAM-1 decorated with monoclonal antibodies specific for domains D1 and D4 to show that the bend instead lies between domains D3 and D4. Therefore, the short arm lies closer to the plasma membrane, whereas the long arm, containing all the known ligand binding sites on ICAM-1, is positioned toward the target cell surface.

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