Integrins deliver bidirectional signals (inside-out signaling and outside-in signaling) across the plasma membrane to modulate cell adhesion, migration, proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis. The inside-out signaling is a series of molecular events within cells that eventually lead to integrin activation to allow extracelluar ligand binding. For many integrin members, their activation is tightly controlled by integrin cytoplasmic tail-associating proteins. The interactive cooperation between integrin cytoplasmic tails, tail-associating proteins and local membrane phospholipids defines the final integrin activation state.
The current research project in our laboratory is to identify and characterize the key components in the integrin activation machinery, especially, the integrin tail-associating proteins. Our long-term goal is to interpret the detailed molecular mechanisms of integrin activation and further explore their therapeutic value for vascular disease. To realize such a goal, multiple experimental approaches have been employed in our lab, ranging from basic protein analyses, cellular mechanisms, to small animal models.
Zhen Xu, PhD
Research Scientist I
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