Cell-matrix interactions are assumed to be important in regulating differentiation and tumor cell growth; however, the precise roles of individual matrix receptors in producing cellular responses are still unclear. We have previously described the alpha v beta 6 integrin, an epithelial cell fibronectin receptor expressed in many carcinoma cell lines. Here we show that heterologous expression of alpha v beta 6 in a human colon carcinoma cell line (SW480) enhances the proliferative capacity of these cells, both in vitro and in vivo in nude mice. This property of alpha v beta 6 correlates with the presence of an 11-amino acid region at the COOH terminus of the beta 6 cytoplasmic domain. This 11-amino acid sequence is required for the growth stimulatory effect, but not for other functions of the beta 6 cytoplasmic domain, such as promoting cell adhesion and focal contact localization.

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