The gene encodes a member of the integrin alpha chain family of proteins. Integrins are heterodimeric integral membrane proteins composed of an alpha chain and a beta chain that function in cell surface adhesion and signaling. The encoded preproprotein is proteolytically processed to generate light and heavy chains that comprise the alpha 4 subunit. This subunit associates with a beta 1 or beta 7 subunit to form an integrin that may play a role in cell motility and migration. This integrin is a therapeutic target for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease and inflammatory bowel disease. Alternative splicing results in multiple transcript variants.