Integrin adhesion receptors are essential for the normal function of most multicellular organisms, and defective integrin activation or integrin signaling is associated with an array of pathological conditions. Integrins are regulated by conformational changes, clustering, and trafficking, and regulatory mechanisms differ strongly between individual integrins and between cell types. Whereas integrins in circulating blood cells are activated by an inside-out-induced conformational change that favors high-affinity ligand binding, β1-integrins in adherent cells can be activated by force or clustering. In addition, endocytosis and recycling play an important role in the regulation of integrin turnover and integrin redistribution in adherent cells, especially during dynamic processes such as cell migration and invasion. Integrin trafficking is strongly regulated by their cytoplasmic tails, and the mechanisms are now being identified.
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