A redox-dependent thiol-switch and a Ca2+ binding site within the hinge region hierarchically depend on each other in α7β1 integrin regulation
Johannes Eble1, Michele F. Caliandro1, Luca Matteo Todesca2, Matthias Mörgelin3, Albrecht Schwab2
1University of Münster, Institute of Physiological Chemistry and Pathobiochemistry, Münster, Germany,
2University of Münster, Institute of Physiology II, Münster, Germany,
3em3, Anderslöv, Sweden
Integrin-mediated cell contacts with the extracellular matrix (ECM) are essential for cellular adhesion, force transmission, and migration. Several effectors, such as divalent cations and redox-active compounds, regulate ligand binding activities of integrins and influence their cellular functions. To study the role of the Ca2+ binding site within the hinge region of the integrin α7 subunit, we genetically abrogated it in the α7hiΔCa mutant. This mutant folded correctly, associated with the β1 subunit and was exposed on the cell surface, but showed reduced ligand binding and weaker cell adhesion to its ligand, laminin-111. Thus, it resembles the α7hiΔSS mutant, in which the redox-regulated pair of cysteines, closeby to the Ca2+ binding site within the hinge, was abrogated. By comparing both mutants in adhesion strength and cell migration, we show that both Ca2+ complexation and redox-regulation within the hinge interdepend on each other. Moreover, protein-chemical analyses of soluble integrin ectodomains containing the same α7 hinge mutations suggest that integrin activation via the subunit α hinge is primed by the formation of the cysteine pair–based crosslinkage. Then, this allows Ca2+ complexation within the hinge, which is another essential step for integrin activation and ligand binding. Thus, the α hinge is an allosteric integrin regulation site, in which both effectors, Ca2+ and redox-active compounds, synergistically and hierarchically induce far-ranging conformational changes, such as the extension of the integrin ectodomain, resulting in integrin activation of ECM ligand binding and altered integrin-mediated cell functions.