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β1 integrins constitute a large group of widely distributed adhesion receptors, which regulate the ability of cells to interact with their surroundings. This regulation of the expression and activity of integrins is crucial for tissue homeostasis and development and contributes to inflammation and cancer. We report an RNA interference screen to uncover genes involved in the regulation of β1-integrin activity using cell spot microarray technology in cancer cell lines. Altogether, ten cancer and two normal cell lines were used to identify regulators of β1 integrin activity. Cell biological analysis of the identified β1-integrin regulatory genes revealed that modulation of integrin activity can influence cell invasion in a three-dimensional matrix. We demonstrate with loss-of-function and rescue experiments that CD9 activates and MMP8 inactivates β1 integrins and that both proteins associate with β1 integrins in cells. Furthermore, CD9 and MMP8 regulate cancer cell extravasation in vivo. Our discovery of new regulators of β1-integrin activity highlight the complexity of integrin activity regulation and provide a set of new genes involved in regulation of integrin function.


  • * These authors contributed equally to this work

  • Funding

    This study was supported by the Academy of Finland [J.I. and O.K.]; a European Research Council Starting Grant [to J.I.]; the Sigrid Juselius Foundation [J.I.]; the European Molecular Biology Organisation Young Investigator Programme [J.I.]; and Finnish Cancer Organizations [J.I. and O.K.]; and Turku Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences [A.A. and T.P.].

  • Supplementary material available online at

  • Accepted September 29, 2011.
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