Life and Medical Sciences
Cell & Developmental Biology
Wiley InterScience Backfile Collection 1832-2000
The recognition of extracellular molecules by cell surface receptors is the principal mechanism used by cells to sense their environment. Consequently, signals transduced as a result of these interactions make a major contribution to the regulation of cellular phenotype. Historically, particular emphasis has been placed on elucidating the intracellular consequences of growth factor and cytokine binding to cells. In addition to these interactions, however, cells are usually in intimate contact with a further source of complex structural and functional information, namely immobilised extracellular matrix and/or cell surface adhesion proteins. A key question in recent years has been whether cells use the myriad of adhesion protein-receptor interactions purely for structural and migratory function, or whether these interactions also make a more varied contribution to cell phenotype. Here we review dynamic aspects of the function of one major class of adhesion receptor, the integrins. In particular, we focus on the evidence for shape changes in integrin molecules, the mechanisms responsible for regulating ligand binding, and the signals transduced following integrin occupancy.
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