The regulation of integrin function by divalent cations

Cell Adh Migr. Jan-Feb 2012;6(1):20-9. doi: 10.4161/cam.18702.


Integrins are a family of α/β heterodimeric adhesion metalloprotein receptors and their functions are highly dependent on and regulated by different divalent cations. Recently advanced studies have revolutionized our perception of integrin metal ion-binding sites and their specific functions. Ligand binding to integrins is bridged by a divalent cation bound at the MIDAS motif on top of either α I domain in I domain-containing integrins or β I domain in α I domain-less integrins. The MIDAS motif in β I domain is flanked by ADMIDAS and SyMBS, the other two crucial metal ion binding sites playing pivotal roles in the regulation of integrin affinity and bidirectional signaling across the plasma membrane. The β-propeller domain of α subunit contains three or four β-hairpin loop-like Ca(2+)-binding motifs that have essential roles in integrin biogenesis. The function of another Ca(2+)-binding motif located at the genu of α subunit remains elusive. Here, we provide an overview of the integrin metal ion-binding sites and discuss their roles in the regulation of integrin functions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Calcium / chemistry*
  • Cations, Divalent / chemistry*
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Membrane / chemistry*
  • Extracellular Matrix / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Integrins / chemistry*
  • Ligands
  • Protein Conformation
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Signal Transduction


  • Cations, Divalent
  • Integrins
  • Ligands
  • Calcium