The alpha 6 beta 4 integrin and epithelial cell migration

Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2001 Oct;13(5):541-5. doi: 10.1016/s0955-0674(00)00249-0.


Although the involvement of alpha 6 beta 4, an integrin laminin receptor, in hemidesmosome organization has dominated the study of this integrin, recent studies are revealing novel functions for alpha 6 beta 4 in the migration of epithelial and carcinoma cells. The engagement of laminin by alpha 6 beta 4 can stabilize actin-rich protrusions and mediate traction forces necessary for cell movement. This integrin also has a significant impact on signaling molecules that stimulate migration and invasion, especially PI3-K and Rho GTPases. Activation of PI3-K by alpha 6 beta 4 enhances the formation of actin protrusions, and it may stimulate the function of other integrins, such as alpha 3 beta 1, that are also important for epithelial migration. Signaling through alpha 6 beta 4 may not always depend on the adhesive functions of this integrin, a possibility that has profound implications for migration and invasion because it implies that the ability of alpha 6 beta 4 to stimulate these processes is not limited to specific matrix environments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Surface / chemistry
  • Antigens, Surface / physiology*
  • Carcinoma / pathology
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Movement*
  • Epithelial Cells / physiology*
  • Hemidesmosomes / metabolism
  • Integrin alpha6beta4
  • Integrins / chemistry
  • Integrins / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Signal Transduction


  • Antigens, Surface
  • Integrin alpha6beta4
  • Integrins