Ligand-induced epitope masking: Dissociation of integrin α5β1-fibronectin complexes only by monoclonal antibodies with an allosteric mode of action

A. Paul Mould, Janet A. Askari, Adam Byron, Yoshikazu Takada, Thomas A. Jowitt, Martin J. Humphries

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


We previously demonstrated that Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD)-containing ligand-mimetic inhibitors of integrins are unable to dissociate pre-formed integrin-fibronectin complexes (IFCs). These observations suggested that amino acid residues involved in integrin-fibronectin binding become obscured in the ligand-occupied state. Because the epitopes of some function-blocking anti-integrin monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) lie near the ligand-binding pocket, it follows that the epitopes of these mAbs may become shielded in the ligand-occupied state. Here, we tested whether function-blocking mAbs directed against α5β1 can interact with the integrin after it forms a complex with an RGD-containing fragment of fibronectin. We showed that the anti-α5 subunit mAbs JBS5, SNAKA52, 16, and P1D6 failed to disrupt IFCs and hence appeared unable to bind to the ligand-occupied state. In contrast, the allosteric anti-β1 subunit mAbs 13, 4B4, and AIIB2 could dissociate IFCs and therefore were able to interact with the ligand-bound state. However, another class of function-blocking anti-β1 mAbs, exemplified by Lia1/2, could not disrupt IFCs. This second class of mAbs was also distinguished from 13, 4B4, and AIIB2 by their ability to induce homotypic cell aggregation. Although the epitope of Lia1/2 was closely overlapping with those of 13, 4B4, and AIIB2, it appeared to lie closer to the ligand-binding pocket. A new model of the α5β1-fibronectin complex supports our hypothesis that the epitopes of mAbs that fail to bind to the ligand-occupied state lie within, or very close to, the integrin-fibronectin interface. Importantly, our findings imply that the efficacy of some therapeutic anti-integrin mAbs could be limited by epitope masking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20993-21007
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number40
StatePublished - Sep 30 2016


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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