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Biophys J. 2011 Sep 7;101(5):1069-75. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2011.08.001.

The LIM domain of zyxin is sufficient for force-induced accumulation of zyxin during cell migration.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of California, Davis, California, USA.


Cellular responses to mechanical perturbation are vital to cell physiology. In particular, migrating cells have been shown to sense substrate stiffness and alter cell morphology and speed. Zyxin is a focal adhesion protein that responds to external mechanical forces; however, the mechanisms of zyxin recruitment at force-bearing sites are unknown. Using force-sensing microfabricated substrates, we simultaneously measured traction force and zyxin recruitment at force-bearing sites. GFP-tagged zyxin accumulates at force-bearing sites at the leading edge, but not at the trailing edge, of migrating epithelial cells. Zyxin recruitment at force-bearing sites depends on Rho-kinase and myosin II activation, suggesting that zyxin responds not only to the externally applied force, as previously shown, but also to the internally generated actin-myosin force. Zyxin in turn recruits vasodilator-stimulated phosphoprotein, a regulator of actin assembly, to force-bearing sites. To dissect the domains of zyxin that are essential for this unique force-dependent accumulation, we generated two zyxin truncation mutants: one lacking the LIM domain (ΔLIM) and one containing only the LIM domain with all three LIM motifs (LIM). GFP-tagged ΔLIM does not localize to the force-bearing sites, but GFP-tagged zyxin LIM-domain is sufficient for the recruitment to and dynamics at force-bearing focal adhesions. Furthermore, one or two LIM motifs are not sufficient for force-dependent accumulation, suggesting that all three LIM motifs are required. Therefore, the LIM domain of zyxin recruits zyxin to force-bearing sites at the leading edge of migrating cells.

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