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EMBO J. 1995 Nov 15;14(22):5550-6.

Critical amino acid residues for ligand binding are clustered in a predicted beta-turn of the third N-terminal repeat in the integrin alpha 4 and alpha 5 subunits.

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


Integrin alpha 4 beta 1 is a receptor for vascular cell adhesion molecule (VCAM)-1 and fibronectin (CS-1). The alpha 4 beta 1-ligand interaction is involved in the pathogenesis of diseases and is, therefore, a therapeutic target. Here, we identified critical residues of alpha 4 for ligand binding using alanine-scanning mutagenesis of the previously localized putative ligand binding sites (residues 108-268). Among 43 mutations tested, mutations of Tyr187, Trp188 and Gly190 significantly inhibited cell adhesion to both VCAM-1 and CS-1. This inhibition was not due to any gross structural changes of alpha 4 beta 1. These critical residues are clustered in a predicted beta-turn structure (residues 181-190) of the third N-terminal repeat in alpha 4. The repeat does not contain divalent cation binding motifs. Notably, the mutations within the corresponding region of alpha 5 significantly reduced fibronectin-alpha 5 beta 1 interaction. These findings suggest that the predicted beta-turn structure could be ubiquitously involved in ligand binding of non-I domain integrins.

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