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Mechanical signals transmitted through the cytoplasmic actin cytoskeleton must be relayed to the nucleus to control gene expression. LIM domains are protein-protein interaction modules found in cytoskeletal proteins and transcriptional regulators. Here, we identify three LIM protein families (zyxin, paxillin, and FHL) whose members preferentially localize to the actin cytoskeleton in mechanically stimulated cells through their tandem LIM domains. A minimal actin-myosin reconstitution system reveals that representatives of all three families directly bind F-actin only in the presence of mechanical force. Point mutations at a site conserved in each LIM domain of these proteins disrupt tensed F-actin binding in vitro and cytoskeletal localization in cells, demonstrating a common, avidity-based mechanism. Finally, we find that binding to tensed F-actin in the cytoplasm excludes the cancer-associated transcriptional co-activator FHL2 from the nucleus in stiff microenvironments. This establishes direct force-activated F-actin binding as a mechanosensing mechanism by which cytoskeletal tension can govern nuclear localization. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Citation

Xiaoyu Sun, Donovan Y Z Phua, Lucas Axiotakis, Mark A Smith, Elizabeth Blankman, Rui Gong, Robert C Cail, Santiago Espinosa de Los Reyes, Mary C Beckerle, Clare M Waterman, Gregory M Alushin. Mechanosensing through Direct Binding of Tensed F-Actin by LIM Domains. Developmental cell. 2020 Nov 23;55(4):468-482.e7

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PMID: 33058779

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