Actin activates a cryptic dimerization potential of the vinculin tail domain

Robert P. Johnson, Susan W. Craig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


The tail domain of vinculin (V(t)) is an actin binding module containing two regions that interact with F-actin. Although intact V(t) purified from a bacterial expression system is a globular monomer, each actin binding region dimerizes when expressed individually, suggesting the presence of cryptic self-association sites whose exposure is regulated. We show that actin modulates V(t) self-association by inducing or stabilizing a conformational change in V(t) that allows dimerization. Chemical cross-linking studies implicate one of the actin binding regions in mediating dimerization in the presence of actin. Actin-induced V(t) dimers may play a role in the filament cross-linking activity of this protein. The V(t) dimers induced by actin are biochemically distinct from the V(t) dimers and higher oligomers induced by acidic phospholipids such as phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate, suggesting structural differences in V(t) bound to these two ligands that may provide a mechanistic basis for inhibition of F-actin binding by phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate. The ability of actin to regulate the dimerization state of an actin binding protein suggests that, rather than serving a passive structural role, actin filaments may directly participate in signal transduction and other cellular events that are known to depend on cytoskeletal integrity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-105
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 7 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Actin activates a cryptic dimerization potential of the vinculin tail domain'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this