Date Published:2016 Oct 10
For a cell to move forward it must convert chemical energy into mechanical propulsion. Force produced by actin polymerization can generate traction across the plasma membrane by transmission through integrins to their ligands. However, the role this force plays in integrin activation is unknown. Here we show that integrin activity and cytoskeletal dynamics are reciprocally linked, where actin-dependent force itself appears to regulate integrin activity. We generated fluorescent tension-sensing constructs of integrin αLβ2 (LFA-1) to visualize intramolecular tension during cell migration. Using quantitative imaging of migrating T cells, we correlate tension in the αL or β2 subunit with cell and actin dynamics. We find that actin engagement produces tension within the β2 subunit to induce and stabilize an active integrin conformational state and that this requires intact talin and kindlin motifs. This supports a general mechanism where localized actin polymerization can coordinate activation of the complex machinery required for cell migration.