Science signaling

A FAK-Cas-Rac-lamellipodin signaling module transduces extracellular matrix stiffness into mechanosensitive cell cycling.

PMID 24939893


Tissue and extracellular matrix (ECM) stiffness is transduced into intracellular stiffness, signaling, and changes in cellular behavior. Integrins and several of their associated focal adhesion proteins have been implicated in sensing ECM stiffness. We investigated how an initial sensing event is translated into intracellular stiffness and a biologically interpretable signal. We found that a pathway consisting of focal adhesion kinase (FAK), the adaptor protein p130Cas (Cas), and the guanosine triphosphatase Rac selectively transduced ECM stiffness into stable intracellular stiffness, increased the abundance of the cell cycle protein cyclin D1, and promoted S-phase entry. Rac-dependent intracellular stiffening involved its binding partner lamellipodin, a protein that transmits Rac signals to the cytoskeleton during cell migration. Our findings establish that mechanotransduction by a FAK-Cas-Rac-lamellipodin signaling module converts the external information encoded by ECM stiffness into stable intracellular stiffness and mechanosensitive cell cycling. Thus, lamellipodin is important not only in controlling cellular migration but also for regulating the cell cycle in response to mechanical signals.