The trafficking of leukocytes through tissues is supported by an interaction between the beta 2 (CD18) integrins CD11a/CD18 (LFA-1) and CD11b/CD18 (Mac-1) and their ligand ICAM-1. The most recently identified and fourth member of the beta 2 integrins, alpha D beta 2, selectively binds ICAM-3 and does not appear to bind ICAM-1. We have reported recently that alpha D beta 2 can support eosinophil adhesion to VCAM-1. Here we demonstrate that expression of alpha D beta 2 in a lymphoid cell that does not express alpha 4 integrins confers efficient binding to VCAM-1. In addition, a soluble form of alpha D beta 2 binds VCAM-1 with greater efficiency relative to ICAM-3. The I domain of alpha D contains a binding site for VCAM-1 since recombinant alpha D I domain binds specifically to VCAM-1. In addition, alpha D mAb that block cellular binding to VCAM-1 bind the alpha D I domain. Using VCAM-1 mutants we have determined that the binding site on VCAM-1 for alpha D beta 2 overlaps with that of alpha 4++ integrins. Substitution of VCAM-1 aspartate at position 40, D40, within the conserved integrin binding site, diminishes binding to alpha D beta 2 and abrogates binding to the alpha D I domain. The corresponding integrin binding site residue in ICAM-3 is also essential to alpha D beta 2 binding. Finally, we demonstrate that alpha D beta 2 can support lymphoid cell adhesion to VCAM-1 under flow conditions at levels equivalent to those mediated by alpha 4 beta 1. These results indicate that VCAM-1 can bind to an I domain and that the binding of alpha D beta 2 to VCAM-1 may contribute to the trafficking of a subpopulation of leukocytes that express alpha D beta 2.
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