Structural basis of integrin transmembrane activation

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Integrins are cell adhesion receptors that transmit bidirectional signals across plasma membrane and are crucial for many biological functions. Recent structural studies of integrin transmembrane (TM) and cytoplasmic domains have shed light on their conformational changes during integrin activation. A structure of the resting state was solved based on Rosetta computational modeling and experimental data using intact integrins on mammalian cell surface. In this structure, the αIIb GXXXG motif and their β3 counterparts of the TM domains associate with ridge-in-groove packing, and the αIIb GFFKR motif and the β3 Lys-716 in the cytoplasmic segments play a critical role in the α/β association. Comparing this structure with the NMR structures of the monomeric αIIb and β3 (represented as active conformations), the α subunit helix remains similar after dissociation whereas β subunit helix is tilted by embedding additional 5-6 residues into the lipid bilayer. These conformational changes are critical for integrin activation and signaling across the plasma membrane. We thus propose a new model of integrin TM activation in which the recent NMR structure of the αIIbβ3 TM/cytoplasmic complex represents an intermediate or transient state, and the electrostatic interaction in the cytoplasmic region is important for priming the initial α/β association, but not absolutely necessary for the resting state. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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Journal of Cellular Biochemistry

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