ARTICLE: Mechanotransduction in talin through the interaction of the R8 domain with DLC1

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Mechano-induced conformational changes and the unfolding of protein domains are cornerstones of mechanotransduction and regulate the interaction of proteins with other molecules. Talin is a prominent molecule in focal adhesions and one of the few proteins that simultaneously connects integrin receptors in the cell membrane with the actin cytoskeleton. This bridging position, owing to the cytoskeleton’s contractile nature, exposes talin to forces along its length. In this work, we studied the implications of the R8 domain unfolding in the downstream activity of deleted in liver cancer 1 (DLC1), which binds the talin R8 domain and negatively regulates Ras homolog family member A (RhoA). We created a talin mutant with the R8 domain resistant to mechanical unfolding and observed that cells expressing these talin mutants have altered patterns of focal adhesion dynamics and lower levels of actomyosin contraction. This leads to decreased traction forces and diminished cell migration. We propose a novel force-controlled molecular switch that refines the mechanism of talin-mediated focal adhesion activation, providing negative feedback during focal adhesion maturation. The broader effects of this talin-mediated mechanism need to be elucidated, as it might regulate multiple cellular events.

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