Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New structural data on talin explain self-inhibitory mechanism

  • Defective cellular adhesion plays a central role in cancer and immune reactions
  • Talin is one of the key proteins involved in the machinery of cellular adhesion
  • The entire structure of talin has been determined with the help of cryo-electron microscopy
  • Now the protein’s regulation mechanism can be explained

All complex organisms are made up of cells that are in contact with each other or with structures in intercellular spaces. Cells have contact points on their surface that enable them to maintain physical contact with their environment.

Regulatory mechanism of talin: from the spherical, inhibited state to the elongated and active form

Picture: ©Naoko Mizuno, MPI of Biochemistry

However, these connections are dynamic, not static. A finely regulated process of cellular attachments and detachments is particularly important during cell migration, cell development, immune responses and blood clotting. For this reason, the contact points form an elaborate protein machinery.

Talin and integrin, two key proteins in the cellular adhesion machinery, have been the subject of much research in recent years.

Together with her team, Naoko Mizuno, head of the “Cellular and Membrane Trafficking” Research Group at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, has now elucidated the structure and regulatory mechanism of talin with the help of cryo-electron microscopy.

“Although talin is recognized as key for the cell migration, its regulation was enigmatic as the architecture of the molecule as a whole was unknown,” Mizuno says.

Dirk Dedden, lead author of the study, comments: “We’ve focused on analyzing the protein as a whole. Using a variety of modern biophysical techniques, we’ve discovered which environmental conditions cause the protein to alter its state reversibly.”

Thanks to controllable laboratory conditions, the scientists have now been able to determine the protein’s precise molecular structure by means of cryo-electron microscopy.

Talin, like a mechanical spring, is spherical in shape in its inactive form and oblong in its active state. The researchers have now been able to identify which areas of inactive talin are shielded from the environment in its spherical self-inhibitory state.

This means that neighbouring proteins are unable to interact with the molecule, and the cell itself is unable to adhere to surrounding tissue. In its elongated active form, the molecule acts as a binding platform for neighbouring proteins, which furthermore promotes attachment of the cell to its surrounding structures.

Naoko Mizuno explains: “Given that the cellular adhesion process no longer functions properly in some diseases, notably cancer, our results will hopefully have long-term medical benefits.

Talin is known to activate integrin, and integrin is a well-known target for some anticancer drugs. We hope that an understanding of the regulatory process of the adhesion mechanism will shed light on disease processes and lead to new treatments.”

Wissenschaftliche Ansprechpartner:

Naoko Mizuno, PhD
Cellular and Membrane Trafficking
Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry
Am Klopferspitz 18
82152 Martinsried


D. Dedden, S. Schumacher, C. F. Kelley, M. Zacharias, C. Biertümpfel, R. Fässler, N. Mizuno: The architecture of talin1 reveals an autoinhibition 1 mechanism. Cell, September 2019

Dr. Christiane Menzfeld | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Colorectal cancer: Increased life expectancy thanks to individualised therapies
20.02.2020 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Sweet beaks: What Galapagos finches and marine bacteria have in common
20.02.2020 | Max-Planck-Institut für Marine Mikrobiologie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A step towards controlling spin-dependent petahertz electronics by material defects

The operational speed of semiconductors in various electronic and optoelectronic devices is limited to several gigahertz (a billion oscillations per second). This constrains the upper limit of the operational speed of computing. Now researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg, Germany, and the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay have explained how these processes can be sped up through the use of light waves and defected solid materials.

Light waves perform several hundred trillion oscillations per second. Hence, it is natural to envision employing light oscillations to drive the electronic...

Im Focus: Freiburg researcher investigate the origins of surface texture

Most natural and artificial surfaces are rough: metals and even glasses that appear smooth to the naked eye can look like jagged mountain ranges under the microscope. There is currently no uniform theory about the origin of this roughness despite it being observed on all scales, from the atomic to the tectonic. Scientists suspect that the rough surface is formed by irreversible plastic deformation that occurs in many processes of mechanical machining of components such as milling.

Prof. Dr. Lars Pastewka from the Simulation group at the Department of Microsystems Engineering at the University of Freiburg and his team have simulated such...

Im Focus: Skyrmions like it hot: Spin structures are controllable even at high temperatures

Investigation of the temperature dependence of the skyrmion Hall effect reveals further insights into possible new data storage devices

The joint research project of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that had previously demonstrated...

Im Focus: Making the internet more energy efficient through systemic optimization

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, recently completed a 5-year research project looking at how to make fibre optic communications systems more energy efficient. Among their proposals are smart, error-correcting data chip circuits, which they refined to be 10 times less energy consumptive. The project has yielded several scientific articles, in publications including Nature Communications.

Streaming films and music, scrolling through social media, and using cloud-based storage services are everyday activities now.

Im Focus: New synthesis methods enhance 3D chemical space for drug discovery

After helping develop a new approach for organic synthesis -- carbon-hydrogen functionalization -- scientists at Emory University are now showing how this approach may apply to drug discovery. Nature Catalysis published their most recent work -- a streamlined process for making a three-dimensional scaffold of keen interest to the pharmaceutical industry.

"Our tools open up whole new chemical space for potential drug targets," says Huw Davies, Emory professor of organic chemistry and senior author of the paper.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

70th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting: Around 70 Laureates set to meet with young scientists from approx. 100 countries

12.02.2020 | Event News

11th Advanced Battery Power Conference, March 24-25, 2020 in Münster/Germany

16.01.2020 | Event News

Laser Colloquium Hydrogen LKH2: fast and reliable fuel cell manufacturing

15.01.2020 | Event News

Latest News

Journey to the center of Mars

20.02.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

Laser writing enables practical flat optics and data storage in glass

20.02.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

New graphene-based metasurface capable of independent amplitude and phase control of light

20.02.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>