Integrins and Matrix Molecules in Salivary Gland Cell Adhesion, Signaling, and Gene Expression

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Integrins play crucial roles in embryonic and adult cell adhesion, migration, morphogenesis, growth, and differentiation in many cell systems, including human salivary gland cells. Integrins function by binding through their extracellular domain to a specific peptide recognition site in a ligand, and then transmitting information to the cytoplasm by way of their cytoplasmic tails. By this transmembrane signaling process, integrins can mediate assembly of adhesion sites and organization of the actin-containing cytoskeleton by forming supermolecular complexes of cytoskeletal and signaling molecules. The specific steps in the assembly of these complexes as well as novel mechanisms for synergy between integrin and growth factor signaling pathways are still being determined. Integrin-mediated interactions also have major effects on gene expression. For example, integrin-mediated adhesion to fibronectin by the HSG salivary gland cell line significantly alters the pattern of proteins synthesized and genes expressed. In fact, at least five transcription factors are activated, and over 30 genes (many of them novel) are found to be induced by such integrin-mediated interactions by salivary gland cells. The roles of integrins, in collaborative interactions with growth factors and signaling pathways, and in the induction of novel genes during salivary gland development, should provide fruitful areas of research for many years.

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