Integrins are crucial regulators of essential cellular processes such as gene expression, cell proliferation and migration. Alteration of these processes is central to tumourigenesis. Integrin signals mediate anchorage dependence of cell growth, while growth of cancer cells is anchorage-independent. Integrins critically regulate Rho family GTPases, that are also involved in cell-cycle progression and oncogenesis. In addition to their effect on GTP loading, integrins independently control the translocation of GTP-bound Rac to the plasma membrane. This step is essential for Rac binding to effectors. Integrins increase membrane affinity for Rac, leading to RhoGDI dissociation and effector coupling locally, in the vicinity of activated/bound integrins. Integrin-regulated Rac binding sites are within CEMMs (cholesterol-enriched membrane microdomains). Integrins control Rac signalling by preventing the internalization of its binding sites in CEMMs. Integrin regulation of signalling pathways initiated in CEMMs may be important for the spatial control of cell migration and anchorage dependence of cell growth.

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