Integrin, alpha E (ITGAE) also known as CD103 (cluster of differentiation 103) is an integrin protein that in human is encoded by the ITGAEgene. CD103 binds integrin beta 7 (β7– ITGB7) to form the complete heterodimeric integrin molecule αEβ7, which has no distinct name. The αEβ7 complex is often referred to as "CD103" though this appellation strictly refers only to the αE chain. Note that the β7 subunit can bind with other integrin α chains, such as α4 (CD49d).
The chief ligand for αEβ7 is E-cadherin, an adhesion molecule (CAM) found on epithelial cells. It is probably important for T cell homing to the intestinal sites.
Tregs are important for decreasing the immune response and appear to play a crucial role in the prevention of autoimmune diseases. Tregs are defined as CD4+/CD25+/Foxp3+ cells. Some CD4+/FoxP3− cells also express CD103 and have been attributed regulatory activity. It is unclear whether the presence of CD103 on Treg cells represents a specialized feature for Treg, or Treg differentiation of IEL T cells.
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