This study reports novel findings that link E-cadherin (also known as CDH1)-mediated force-transduction signaling to vinculin targeting to intercellular junctions via epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and integrins. These results build on previous findings that demonstrated that mechanically perturbed E-cadherin receptors activate phosphoinositide 3-kinase and downstream integrins in an EGFR-dependent manner. Results of this study show that this EGFR-mediated kinase cascade controls the force-dependent recruitment of vinculin to stressed E-cadherin complexes – a key early signature of cadherin-based mechanotransduction. Vinculin targeting requires its phosphorylation at tyrosine 822 by Abl family kinases (hereafter Abl), but the origin of forcedependent Abl activation had not been identified. We now present evidence that integrin activation, which is downstream of EGFR signaling, controls Abl activation, thus linking E-cadherin to Abl through a mechanosensitive signaling network. These findings place EGFR and integrins at the center of a positive-feedback loop, through which force-activated E-cadherin signals regulate vinculin recruitment to cadherin complexes in response to increased intercellular tension.

This article has an associated First Person interview with the first author of the paper.

AUTHORS: Poonam Sehgal1, Xinyu Kong1, Jun Wu2, Raimon Sunyer3,4, Xavier Trepat3,4,5 and Deborah Leckband1,2,6,*

KEY WORDS: Cadherin, Epidermal growth factor receptor, Force transduction, Magnetic twisting cytometry, Vinculin, Integrin




– Written by The Company of Biologists Ltd, Journal of Cell Science