Understanding how talin and vinculin respond to stretching forces is crucial to understanding how cells respond to forces in our bodies. In this case, both proteins are found in larger molecular machinery called focal adhesions, which physically connect the interior of a cell with the material that is surrounding the cell, the extracellular matrix. Focal adhesions primarily function as signal relaying centers, and the information they transfer can induce cell growth and cell movement. When this signal processing is disrupted, or is not regulated, disease states arise and the body’s ability to heal wounds, or maintain tissue integrity as we age becomes impaired.

Although important to facilitating these wider cellular and tissue processes, the talin-vinculin interaction is just one of many protein interactions to respond to force. It is hoped that this newly described method will pave the way for researchers to dissect other protein interactions, both within focal adhesions, and in other molecular machines, to improve our understanding of the many force-driven cellular processes that arise during development and continue through to aging.

For more on talins, visit MBinfo:www.mechanobio.info/topics/mechanosignaling/cell-matrix-adhesion/focal-adhesion/focal-adhesion-assembly/