Structural insights into integrin α5β1 opening by fibronectin ligand

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Science Advances  07 May 2021:
Vol. 7, no. 19, eabe9716
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abe9716


Integrin α5β1 is a major fibronectin receptor critical for cell migration. Upon complex formation, fibronectin and α5β1 undergo conformational changes. While this is key for cell-tissue connections, its mechanism is unknown. Here, we report cryo–electron microscopy structures of native human α5β1 with fibronectin to 3.1-angstrom resolution, and in its resting state to 4.6-angstrom resolution. The α5β1-fibronectin complex revealed simultaneous interactions at the arginine-glycine-aspartate loop, the synergy site, and a newly identified binding site proximal to adjacent to metal ion–dependent adhesion site, inducing the translocation of helix α1 to secure integrin opening. Resting α5β1 adopts an incompletely bent conformation, challenging the model of integrin sharp bending inhibiting ligand binding. Our biochemical and structural analyses showed that affinity of α5β1 for fibronectin is increased with manganese ions (Mn2+) while adopting the half-bent conformation, indicating that ligand-binding affinity does not depend on conformation, and α5β1 opening is induced by ligand-binding.

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