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J Biol Chem. 1998 Mar 20;273(12):6786-95.

Asp-698 and Asp-811 of the integrin alpha4-subunit are critical for the formation of a functional heterodimer.

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Tumor Immunology Programme, 0710, German Cancer Research Center, D-69120 Heidelberg, Federal Republic of Germany.


The amino acid motif LDV is the principal binding site for alpha4 integrins in fibronectin, and homologous motifs are recognized in vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 and MAdCAM-1. Three conserved LDV motifs (LDV-1 to 3) occur in the ectodomain of the human and mouse alpha4-subunit, the functions of which are unknown. We demonstrate here that alpha4-transfected fibroblasts with mutation in LDV-1 (D489N) behaved like alpha4-wild type but that LDV-2 (D698N) and LDV-3 (D811N) mutants were impaired in binding and spreading on alpha4-specific substrates. On the RGD-containing fibronectin fragment FN-120 there was an inverse behavior; now the alpha4-wild type and the LDV-1 mutant could not adhere whereas the two other mutants could. The beta1 chain was critical for the differential integrin response. Biochemical analysis demonstrated that the LDV-2 and -3 mutations reduced the strength of the alpha4beta1 association, favored the formation of alpha5beta1, and prevented the expression of alpha4beta7 on the cell surface. Our results indicate that LDV-2 and LDV-3 are critical for the formation of a functional heterodimer. The presence of similar amino acid motifs in ligands and the alpha4-subunit suggest that metal coordination plays an important role in integrin-ligand binding as well as for heterodimer formation.

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