Structural and functional studies of the human integrin alpha-4 beta-1 (CD49d/CD29)

Margit Christina Szabo, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


The integrin receptor $\alpha 4\beta 1$ is a cell surface heterodimer involved in a variety of highly regulated cellular interactions. The purpose of this dissertation was to identify and characterize unique structural and functional properties of the $\alpha 4\beta 1$ molecule that may be important for adhesion regulation and signal transduction. To study these properties and to establish a consensus sequence for the $\alpha 4$ subunit, cDNA encoding $\alpha 4$ was cloned and sequenced. A comparison with previously described human $\alpha 4$ sequences identified several substitutions in the $5\prime$ and $3\prime$ untranslated regions, and a nonsynonymous G to A transition in the coding region, resulting in a glutamine substitution for arginine. Further analysis of this single nucleotide substitution indicated that two variants of the $\alpha 4$ subunit exist, and when compared with three ancestrally-related species, the new form cloned in our laboratory was found to be evolutionarily conserved. The expression of $\alpha 4$ cDNA in transfected K562 erythroleukemia cells, and subsequent studies using flow cytofluorometric, immunochemical, and ligand binding/blocking analyses, confirmed $\alpha 4\beta 1$ as a receptor for fibronectin (FN) and vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1), and provided a practical means of identifying two novel monoclonal antibody (mAb) binding epitopes on the $\alpha 4\beta 1$ complex that may play important roles in the regulation of leukocyte adhesion. To investigate the association of $\alpha 4\beta 1$-mediated adhesion with signals involved in the spreading of lymphocytes on FN, a quantitative method of analysis was developed using video microscopy and digital imaging. The results showed that HPB-ALL $(\alpha 4\beta 1\sp{\rm hi},\ \alpha 5\beta 1\sp-)$ cells could adhere and actively spread on human plasma FN, but not on control substrate. Many cell types which express different levels of the $\alpha 4\beta 1$ and $\alpha 5\beta 1$ FN binding integrins were examined for their ability to function in these events. Using anti-$\alpha 4$ and anti-$\alpha 5$ mAbs, it was determined that cell adhesion to FN was influenced by both $\beta 1$ integrins, while cell spreading was found to be dependent on the $\alpha 4\beta 1$ complex. In addition, inhibitors of phospholipase A$\sb2$ (PLA$\sb2$), 5-lipoxygenases, and cyclooxygenases blocked HPB-ALL cell spreading, yet had no effect on cell adhesion to FN, and the impaired spreading induced by the PLA$\sb2$ inhibitor cibacron blue was restored by the addition of exogenous arachidonic acid (AA). These results suggest that the interaction of $\alpha 4\beta 1$ with FN, the activation of PLA$\sb2,$ and the subsequent release of AA, may be involved in lymphocyte spreading.

Subject Area

Molecular biology

Recommended Citation

Szabo, Margit Christina, "Structural and functional studies of the human integrin alpha-4 beta-1 (CD49d/CD29)" (1994). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9420590.