Integrins are a family of heterodimeric class I transmembrane receptors, many of which bind to the RGD sequence in adhesive proteins and mediate the adhesive interactions of a variety of cells. The RGD motif has also been found in snake venom proteins that specifically inhibit integrin binding function and serve as potent integrin antagonists. The majority of these proteins interact with β1 and β3 associated integrins and their potency is at least 500-2000 times higher than short RGD peptides. Structural and functional studies suggest that the inhibitory potency of these proteins lies in subtle positional requirements of the tripeptide RGD that is harboured in a defined flexible loop. The integrin-binding specificity and selectivity of each of the proteins is controlled by amino acid residues in this loop in close vicinity to the RGD-motif. The review includes an overview of the structure and function of snake-venom integrin antagonists. The ability of these proteins to control platelet aggregation, cell adhesion and ligand binding is compared to that of short linear, cyclic RGD peptides and RGD-containing proteins and the influence of modulation of amino acid residues flanking the RGD motif is also considered. The review is intended to provide insight into the development of novel inhibitors as drugs.
Keywords: integrin, glycoprotein ligand, disintegrin, integrin-binding antagonists, platelet aggregation, integrin-ligand interaction, adam protein, rgd motif
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