3 years ago

Molecular Simulations Suggest a Force-Dependent Mechanism of Vinculin Activation

Molecular Simulations Suggest a Force-Dependent Mechanism of Vinculin Activation
Li Sun, José N. Onuchic, Herbert Levine, Jeffrey K. Noel

Abstract

Focal adhesions are dynamic constructs at the leading edge of migrating cells, linking them to the extracellular matrix and enabling force sensing and transmission. The lifecycle of a focal adhesion is a highly coordinated process involving spatial and temporal variations of protein composition, interaction, and cellular tension. The assembly of focal adhesions requires the recruitment and activation of vinculin. Vinculin is present in the cytoplasm in an autoinhibited conformation in which its tail is held pincerlike by its head domains, further stabilized by two high-affinity head-tail interfaces. Vinculin has binding sites for talin and F-actin, but effective binding requires vinculin activation to release its head-tail associations. In migrating cells, it has been shown that the locations of vinculin activation coincide with areas of high cellular tension, and that the highest recorded tensions across vinculin are associated with adhesion assembly. Here, we use a structure-based model to investigate vinculin activation by talin modulated by tensile force generated by transient associations with F-actin. We show that vinculin activation may proceed from an intermediate state stabilized by partial talin-vinculin association. There is a low-force regime and a high-force regime where vinculin activation is dominated by two different pathways with distinct responses to force. Specifically, at zero or low forces, vinculin activation requires substantial destabilization of the main head-tail interface, which is rigid and undergoes very limited fluctuations, despite the other being relatively flexible. This pathway is not significantly affected by force; instead, higher forces favor an alternative pathway, which seeks to release the vinculin tail from its pincerlike head domains before destabilizing the head-tail interfaces. This pathway has a force-sensitive activation barrier and is significantly accelerated by force. Experimental data of vinculin during various stages of the focal adhesion lifecycle are consistent with the proposed force-regulated activation pathway.

Publisher URL: http://www.cell.com/biophysj/fulltext/S0006-3495(17)30932-3

DOI: 10.1016/j.bpj.2017.08.037

You might also like
Discover & Discuss Important Research

Keeping up-to-date with research can feel impossible, with papers being published faster than you'll ever be able to read them. That's where Researcher comes in: we're simplifying discovery and making important discussions happen. With over 19,000 sources, including peer-reviewed journals, preprints, blogs, universities, podcasts and Live events across 10 research areas, you'll never miss what's important to you. It's like social media, but better. Oh, and we should mention - it's free.

  • Download from Google Play
  • Download from App Store
  • Download from AppInChina

Researcher displays publicly available abstracts and doesn’t host any full article content. If the content is open access, we will direct clicks from the abstracts to the publisher website and display the PDF copy on our platform. Clicks to view the full text will be directed to the publisher website, where only users with subscriptions or access through their institution are able to view the full article.