In multicellular organisms, the execution of complex morphogenetic events, such as gastrulation or vascular morphogenesis, depends on the dynamic modulation of adhesion. Guidance cues, such as chemokines, growth factors, and semaphorins control the attachment of cells to extracellular matrix proteins by regulating the conformational activation of integrin receptors. The endo–exocytic traffic of integrins back and forth from the plasma membrane represents another crucial regulatory aspect in cell adhesion and motility. Recent work added an additional layer of complexity by indicating that distinct molecular machineries are required for trafficking active and inactive integrins.
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