Cell adhesion is indispensable for embryonic development and for proper tissue function. In metazoans, integrins are the major adhesion receptors that connect cells to components of the extracellular matrix. Integrins are implicated in assembly of extracellular matrices, cell adhesion and migration on extracellular matrices, and in vertebrates (in which the integrin family has expanded) they can also mediate cell-cell adhesion. Furthermore, integrin-mediated adhesion can modulate many different signal transduction cascades and support cell survival, proliferation, and influence the expression of differentiation-related genes. In this review we briefly explain how integrins can affect so many different aspects of cell behavior and discuss evidence for roles of integrins in tissue development, function, and disease.
Copyright 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.