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Genetic analysis of beta1 integrin function: confirmed, new and revised roles for a crucial family of cell adhesion molecules
C. Brakebusch, E. Hirsch, A. Potocnik, R. Fassler


Integrins are heterodimeric cell adhesion proteins connecting the extracellular matrix to the cytoskeleton and transmitting signals in both directions. These integrins are suggested to be involved in many different biological processes such as growth, differentiation, migration, and cell death. Of more than 20 known integrins, 10 contain the nearly ubiquitously expressed beta1 integrin subunit. Disruption of the beta1 integrin gene by homologous recombination allows us to assess the supposed functions of beta1 containing integrins in vivo in a new way. This review will present and discuss recent findings derived from such studies concerning the biological roles of beta1 integrins in early development, differentiation and migration, hematopoiesis, tumorigenesis, and supramolecular assembly of extracellular matrix proteins. While several former results were confirmed, others were contradicted and new functions found, significantly changing the previous view of beta1 integrin function in vivo.