Focal adhesions (FAs) are flat elongated structures that mediate cell migration and link the cytoskeleton to the extracellular matrix. Along the vertical axis FAs were shown to be composed of three layers. We used structured illumination microscopy to examine the longitudinal distribution of four hallmark FA proteins, which we also used as markers for these layers. At the FA ends pointing towards the adherent membrane edge (heads), bottom layer protein paxillin protruded, while at the opposite ends (tails) intermediate layer protein vinculin and top layer proteins zyxin and VASP extended further. At the tail tips, only intermediate layer protein vinculin protruded. Importantly, head and tail compositions were altered during HGF-induced scattering with paxillin heads being shorter and zyxin tails longer. Additionally, FAs at protruding or retracting membrane edges had longer paxillin heads than FAs at static edges. These data suggest that redistribution of FA-proteins with respect to each other along FAs is involved in cell movement.,
Scientific Reports
Department of Pathology

Legerstee, K., Abraham, T., van Cappellen, G., Nigg, A., Slotman, J. A., & Houtsmuller, A. (2021). Growth factor dependent changes in nanoscale architecture of focal adhesions. Scientific Reports, 11(1). doi:10.1038/s41598-021-81898-x