The integrin subunit beta 1B, a beta 1 isoform with a unique sequence at the cytoplasmic domain, forms heterodimers with integrin alpha chains and binds fibronectin, but it does not localize to focal adhesion sites (Balzac, F., A. Belkin, V. Koteliansky, Y. Balabanow, F. Altruda, L. Silengo, and G. Tarone. 1993. J. Cell Biol. 121:171-178). Here we analyze the functional properties of human beta 1B by expressing it in hamster CHO cells. When stimulated by specific antibodies, beta 1B does not trigger tyrosine phosphorylation of a 125-kD cytosolic protein, an intracellular signalling pathway that is activated both by the endogenous hamster or the transfected human beta 1A. Moreover, expression of beta 1B results in reduced spreading on fibronectin and laminin, but not on vitronectin. Expression of beta 1B also results in severe reduction of cell motility in the Boyden chamber assay. Reduced cell spreading and motility could not be accounted for by preferential association of beta 1B with a given integrin alpha subunit. These data, together with our previous results, indicate that beta 1B interferes with beta 1A function when expressed in CHO cells resulting in a dominant negative effect on cell adhesion and migration.

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