The collagen-binding integrins α1β1 and α2β1 have profoundly different functions, yet they are often co-expressed in epithelial cells. When both integrins are expressed in the same cell, it has been suggested that α1β1 negatively regulates integrin α2β1-dependent functions. In this study we utilized murine ureteric bud (UB) epithelial cells, which express no functionally detectable levels of endogenous integrins α1β1 and α2β1, to determine the mechanism whereby this regulation occurs. We demonstrate that UB cells expressing integrin α2β1, but not α1β1 adhere, migrate and proliferate on collagen I as well as form cellular cords in 3D collagen I gels. Substitution of the transmembrane domain of the integrin α2 subunit with that of α1 results in decreased cell adhesion, migration and cord formation. In contrast, substitution of the integrin α2 cytoplasmic tail with that of α1, decreases cell migration and cord formation, but increases proliferation. When integrin α1 and α2 subunits are co-expressed in UB cells, the α1 subunit negatively regulates integrin α2β1-dependent cord formation, adhesion and migration and this inhibition requires expression of both α1 and α2 tails. Thus, we provide evidence that the transmembrane and cytoplasmic domains of the α2 integrin subunit, as well as the α1 integrin subunit, regulate integrin α2β1 cell function.
Abair, T. D., Sundaramoorthy, M., Chen, D., Heino, J., Ivaska, J., Hudson, B. G., Sanders, C. R., Pozzi, A., & Zent, R. (2008). Cross-talk between integrins a1ß1 and a2ß1 in renal epithelial cells. Experimental Cell Research, 314(19), 3593-3604. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yexcr.2008.08.014