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Copyright: © 2015 Hu Luo. January Integrins play an essential role in hemostasis, thrombosis, and cell migration, and they transmit bidirectional signals. Transmembrane/cytoplasmic domains are hypothesized to associate in the resting integrins; whereas, ligand binding and intracellular activating signals induce transmembrane domain separation. However, how this conformational change affects integrin outside-in signaling and whether the α subunit cytoplasmic domain is important for this signaling remain elusive. Using Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) cells that stably expressed different integrin αIIbβ3 constructs, we discovered that an αIIb cytoplasmic domain truncation led to integrin activation but not defective outside-in signaling. In contrast, preventing transmembrane domain separation abolished both inside-out and outside-in signaling regardless of removing the αIIb cytoplasmic tail. Truncation of the αIIb cytoplasmic tail did not obviously affect adhesion-induced outside-in signaling. Our research revealed that transmembrane domain separation is a downstream conformational change after the cytoplasmic domain dissociation in inside-out activation and indispensable for ligand-induced outside-in signaling. The result implicates that the β TM helix rearrangement after dissociation is essential for integrin transmembrane signaling. Furthermore, we discovered that the PI3K/Akt pathway is not essential for cell spreading but spreading-induced Erk1/2 activation is PI3K dependent implicating requirement of the kinase for cell survival in outside-in signaling.

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