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BMC Cell Biol. 2011 Nov 3;12:48. doi: 10.1186/1471-2121-12-48.

Myosin II activity dependent and independent vinculin recruitment to the sites of E-cadherin-mediated cell-cell adhesion.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of California, Davis Davis, CA 95616, USA.



Maintaining proper adhesion between neighboring cells depends on the ability of cells to mechanically respond to tension at cell-cell junctions through the actin cytoskeleton. Thus, identifying the molecules involved in responding to cell tension would provide insight into the maintenance, regulation, and breakdown of cell-cell junctions during various biological processes. Vinculin, an actin-binding protein that associates with the cadherin complex, is recruited to cell-cell contacts under increased tension in a myosin II-dependent manner. However, the precise role of vinculin at force-bearing cell-cell junctions and how myosin II activity alters the recruitment of vinculin at quiescent cell-cell contacts have not been demonstrated.


We generated vinculin knockdown cells using shRNA specific to vinculin and MDCK epithelial cells. These vinculin-deficient MDCK cells form smaller cell clusters in a suspension than wild-type cells. In wound healing assays, GFP-vinculin accumulated at cell-cell junctions along the wound edge while vinculin-deficient cells displayed a slower wound closure rate compared to vinculin-expressing cells. In the presence of blebbistatin (myosin II inhibitor), vinculin localization at quiescent cell-cell contacts was unaffected while in the presence of jasplakinolide (F-actin stabilizer), vinculin recruitment increased in mature MDCK cell monolayers.


These results demonstrate that vinculin plays an active role at adherens junctions under increased tension at cell-cell contacts where vinculin recruitment occurs in a myosin II activity-dependent manner, whereas vinculin recruitment to the quiescent cell-cell junctions depends on F-actin stabilization.

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