Novel Players in the Integrin Signaling Orchestra: TCPTP and MDGI: Dissertation

Jonna Nevo

Research output: ThesisDissertationCollection of Articles


Metastases are the major cause of cancer deaths. Tumor cell dissemination from the primary tumor utilizes dysregulated cellular adhesion and upregulated proteolytic degradation of the extracellular matrix for progeny formation in distant organs. Integrins are transmembrane adhesive receptors mediating cellcell and cellmatrix interactions that are crucial for regulating cell migration, invasion, proliferation, and survival. Consequently, increased integrin activity is associated with augmented migration and invasion capacity in several cancer types. Heterodimeric integrins consist of an alpha - and beta-subunit that are held together in a bent conformation when the receptor is inactive, but extension and separation of subdomains is observed during receptor activation. Either inside-out or outside-in activation of receptors is possible through the intracellular molecule binding to an integrin cytoplasmic domain or extracellular ligand association with an integrin ectodomain, respectively. Several regulatory binding partners have been characterized for integrin cytoplasmic beta-domains, but the regulators interacting with the cytoplasmic alpha-domains have remained elusive.

In this study, we performed yeast two-hybrid screens to identify novel binding partners for the cytoplasmic integrin alpha-domains. Further examination of two plausible candidates revealed a significant coregulatory role of an integrin alpha-subunit for cellular signaling processes. T-cell protein tyrosine phosphatase (TCPTP) showed a specific interaction with the cytoplasmic tail of integrin alpha1. This association stimulated TCPTP phosphatase activity, leading to negative regulation of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling and diminished anchorage-independent growth. Another candidate, mammary-derived growth inhibitor (MDGI), exhibited binding to several different integrin cytoplasmic alpha-tails through a conserved GFFKR sequence. MDGI overexpression in breast cancer cells altered EGFR trafficking and caused a remarkable accumulation of EGFR in the cytoplasm. We further demonstrated in vivo that MDGI expression induced a novel form of anti-EGFR therapy resistance. Moreover, MDGI binding to α-tails retained integrin in an inactive conformation attenuating integrin-mediated adhesion, migration, and invasion. In agreement with these results, sustained MDGI expression in breast cancer patients correlated with an increased 10-year distant disease-free survival. Taken together, the integrin signaling network is far from a complete view and future work will doubtless broaden our understanding further.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor Degree
Awarding Institution
  • University of Turku
  • Ivaska, Johanna, Supervisor, External person
Place of PublicationTurku
Print ISBNs978-951-29-4499-6
Electronic ISBNs978-951-29-4500-9
Publication statusPublished - 2011
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • Integrin
  • cancer
  • EGFR
  • protein tyrosine phosphatase
  • MDGI


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