The mouse CD8+ T cell lymphoma TK1 expresses high levels of alpha 4 beta 7 integrin, which it can use to interact with multiple ligands including mucosal addressin-1 (MAdCAM-1), VCAM-1, and fibronectin. In addition, alpha 4 beta 7 can support TK1 cell aggregation. Here we have produced and characterized a panel of mAbs against alpha 4 beta 7 to define antigenic and functional epitopes associated with its distinct functions. One mAb, DATK32, is unique in recognizing an epitope specific to the alpha 4 beta 7 heterodimer. Furthermore, DATK32 induces TK1 cell aggregation yet inhibits TK1 cell adhesion to MAdCAM-1, VCAM-1, and fibronectin. Considered as a whole, the panel of anti-alpha 4 beta 7 mAbs studied define unique patterns of inhibition for alpha 4 beta 7 binding to each of its defined molecular ligands. We conclude that alpha 4 beta 7 interactions with MAdCAM-1, VCAM-1, and fibronectin can be modulated by Ab binding to distinct epitopes and thus probably involve functionally separable, although physically overlapping binding sites on this multifunctional integrin. These findings are consistent with the general observation that integrins use distinct, potentially differentially regulated interaction sites for adhesion to multiple ligands. Extension of these concepts to alpha 4 beta 7 has important considerations for understanding the roles of this integrin in lymphocyte homing to mucosal sites and in cell-cell interactions during the immune response.

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