Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Definition of EGF-like, closely interacting modules that bear activation epitopes in integrin beta subunits.

PMID 11572973


Integrin beta subunits contain four cysteine-rich repeats in a long extracellular stalk that connects the headpiece to the membrane. Most mAbs to integrin activation epitopes map to these repeats, and they are important in propagating conformational signals from the membrane/cytosol to the ligand-binding headpiece. Sequence analysis of a protein containing only 10 integrin-like, cysteine-rich repeats suggests that these repeats start one cysteine earlier than previously reported. By using the new repeat boundaries, statistically significant sequence homology to epidermal growth factor-like domains is found, and a disulfide bond connectivity of the eight cysteines is predicted that differs in three of four disulfides from a previous prediction of epidermal growth factor-like modules [Berg, R. W., Leung, E., Gough, S., Morris, C., Yao, W.-P., Wang, S.-x., Ni, J. & Krissansen, G. W. (1999) Genomics 56, 169-178]. N-terminally truncated beta2 integrin stalk fragments were well expressed and secreted from 293 T cells when they began at repeat boundaries but not when they began one cysteine earlier or later. Furthermore, peptides that correspond to module 3 or modules 2 + 3 were expressed in bacteria and refolded. The module 2 + 3 fragment was as reactive with three mAbs to activation epitopes as a beta2 fragment expressed in eukaryotic cells, indicating a native fold. Only one residue intervenes between the last cysteine of one module and the first cysteine of the next. This arrangement is consistent with a tight intermodule connection, a prerequisite for signal propagation from the membrane to the ligand binding headpiece.