Integrins, a subgroup of adhesion receptors, are transmembrane glycoproteins that mediate interactions between cytoplasm and the extracellular environment. These interactions influence, among others, events such as cell migration, proliferation, and differentiation. Differential expression of integrins is developmentally regulated in the peripheral nervous system (PNS) and is associated with crucial events in both physiological and pathological processes. Preliminary studies suggest that integrin expression influences neural crest cell migration, axonal outgrowth, and Schwann cell differentiation. Similarly, the abnormal expression of integrins or their ligands, is associated with degenerative, inflammatory, and malignant disorders of the PNS. Finally, integrins participate in the complex interactions that promote repair of the PNS. A better comprehension of the role of integrins in the PNS, their protein interactions and transducing signals is being achieved by selected biochemical and genetic experiments. Here we review a large bias of evidence suggesting the key functions for integrins in the PNS.
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