Multiple approaches converge on the structure of the integrin alphaIIb/beta3 transmembrane heterodimer

J Mol Biol. 2009 Oct 2;392(4):1087-101. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2009.06.032. Epub 2009 Jun 13.


Integrins link the cytoskeleton to the extracellular matrix and regulate key signaling events that coordinate cellular processes such as secretion, migration, and proliferation. A single integrin molecule can exist in a resting state that does not bind extracellular ligands or in an active state that can engage ligands and form large signaling complexes. Activation signals are transduced between the cytosolic region and the extracellular region by a binary on/off switch in the integrin's transmembrane (TM) domain; the integrin's alpha and beta subunits each have a single TM helix that forms an alpha/beta heterodimer in the resting state, and the TM heterodimer separates to transduce an activation signal across the membrane. In this article, two methods used to generate models of the TM heterodimer, both converging on the same structure, are described. The first model was generated by a Monte Carlo algorithm that selected conformations based on their agreement with published experimental mutagenesis results. The second model was generated by threading the integrin's sequence onto TM helix dimers parsed from the Protein Data Bank and by selecting conformations based on their agreement with published experimental cysteine crosslinking results. The two models have similar structures; however, they differ markedly from some previously published models. To distinguish conformations that reflect the native integrin, we compared the Monte Carlo model, the threaded model, and four published models with experimental mutagenesis and cysteine crosslinking results. The models presented here had high correlation coefficients when compared with experimental findings, and they are in excellent agreement, both in terms of accuracy and in terms of precision, with a recent NMR structure. These results demonstrate that multiple approaches converged on the same structure of the resting integrin's TM heterodimer, and this conformation likely reflects the integrin's native structure.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Molecular
  • Monte Carlo Method
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Biomolecular
  • Platelet Glycoprotein GPIIb-IIIa Complex / chemistry*
  • Platelet Glycoprotein GPIIb-IIIa Complex / metabolism*
  • Protein Multimerization*
  • Protein Structure, Quaternary


  • Platelet Glycoprotein GPIIb-IIIa Complex