Send to

Choose Destination
PLoS Comput Biol. 2008 Feb;4(2):e24. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.0040024.

How force might activate talin's vinculin binding sites: SMD reveals a structural mechanism.

Author information

Laboratory of Biologically Oriented Materials, Department of Materials, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich), Zürich, Switzerland.


Upon cell adhesion, talin physically couples the cytoskeleton via integrins to the extracellular matrix, and subsequent vinculin recruitment is enhanced by locally applied tensile force. Since the vinculin binding (VB) sites are buried in the talin rod under equilibrium conditions, the structural mechanism of how vinculin binding to talin is force-activated remains unknown. Taken together with experimental data, a biphasic vinculin binding model, as derived from steered molecular dynamics, provides high resolution structural insights how tensile mechanical force applied to the talin rod fragment (residues 486-889 constituting helices H1-H12) might activate the VB sites. Fragmentation of the rod into three helix subbundles is prerequisite to the sequential exposure of VB helices to water. Finally, unfolding of a VB helix into a completely stretched polypeptide might inhibit further binding of vinculin. The first events in fracturing the H1-H12 rods of talin1 and talin2 in subbundles are similar. The proposed force-activated alpha-helix swapping mechanism by which vinculin binding sites in talin rods are exposed works distinctly different from that of other force-activated bonds, including catch bonds.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center