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The integrin superfamily of cell adhesion receptors consists of heterodimeric glycoproteins composed of unique alpha and beta subunits. These receptors mediate cell-substrate and cell-cell adhesive properties for a variety of cell types. This investigation has focused on the histologic distribution of the beta 1 subfamily of integrins within lymphoid tissues including tonsil, lymph node, spleen, thymus, and appendix. The dendritic cells of both follicular center and thymic origin express the alpha 1, alpha 2, alpha 3, alpha 5, and alpha 6, as well as the beta 1 integrin subunits. Most lymphoid cells in normal tissues do not express the alpha 1, alpha 2, alpha 3, alpha 5, and alpha 6 subunits, or the alpha v beta 3 integrin. The beta 1 subunit is expressed by all lymphocytes but with variable intensity. Increased levels of the alpha 5 and beta 1 subunits are observed in the follicular light zone, suggesting a role for these integrins in B-cell activation. Although the alpha 4 subunit is expressed by all lymphoid cells, an increased expression of alpha 4 and decreased expression of beta 1 by the mantle zone B-cell compartment is noted in comparison with the decreased expression of alpha 4 and increased expression of beta 1 by follicular center B-cells. These studies suggest that alpha 4 may be paired with a beta subunit other than beta 1 on the mantle zone lymphoid population. Thus, integrin expression by cells of lymphoid tissues varies with location and function and differs significantly from integrin expression observed on circulating and cultured peripheral blood lymphocytes.