Adhesion molecules, although catalytically inactive, are able to translate environmental cues into complex intracellular signals. They can do this by associating with tyrosine kinase receptors for growth factors, which can prime, integrate or feedback adhesion-based signals. Recent results show that reciprocal crosstalk between the two systems is only one facet of such a collaboration, and that unconventional and alternative hierarchies can be established in which, on the one hand, cell adhesion can trigger ligand-independent activation of growth factor receptors, and, on the other, growth factors can induce adhesion molecules to propagate adhesion-independent signals.
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