Integrins are essential adhesion receptors found on the surfaces of all metazoan cells. As regulators of cell migration and extracellular matrix assembly, these membrane-spanning heterodimers are critical for embryonic development, tissue repair and immune responses. Signals transmitted by integrins from outside to inside the cell promote cell survival and proliferation, but integrin affinity for extracellular ligands can also be controlled by intracellular cues. This bidirectional signaling is mediated by the short cytoplasmic tails of the two integrin subunits. Recent structural and functional studies of various integrin fragments and complexes between the cytoplasmic tails and intracellular proteins, such as talin, have provided new insight into the signaling processes centered around the tails, particularly inside-out integrin activation.
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