A dystroglycan/plectin scaffold mediates mechanical pathway bifurcation in lung epithelial cells

Desire Takawira, G. R.Scott Budinger, Susan B. Hopkinson, Jonathan C.R. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


In alveolar epithelial cells (AECs), the membrane-anchored proteoglycan dystroglycan (DG) is a mechanoreceptor that transmits mechanical stretch forces to activate independently the ERK1/2 and the adenosine 5′-monophosphate- activated protein kinase (AMPK) signaling cascades in a process called pathway bifurcation. We tested the hypothesis that the cytoskeleton cross-linker plectin, known to bind both DG and AMPK in muscle cells, acts as a scaffold to regulate DG-mediated mechanical stimulation and pathway bifurcation. We demonstrate that plectin and DG form a complex in AECs and that this complex interacts with ERK1/2 and AMPK. Plectin knockdown reduces DG interaction with AMPK but not with ERK1/2. Despite this, mechanoactivation of both signaling pathways is significantly attenuated in AECs deficient in plectin. Thus, DG has the dual role of mechanical receptor and scaffold for ERK1/2, whereas plectin acts as a scaffold for AMPK signaling but is also required for DG-mediated ERK1/2 activation. We conclude that the DG-plectin complex plays a central role in transmitting mechanical stress from the extracellular matrix to the cytoplasm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6301-6310
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number8
StatePublished - Feb 25 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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