Plectin-containing, centrally localized focal adhesions exert traction forces in primary lung epithelial cells

Jessica L. Eisenberg, Kristin G. Beaumont, Desire Takawira, Susan B. Hopkinson, Milan Mrksich, G. R. Scott Budinger, Jonathan C.R. Jones*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Receptor clustering upon cell attachment to the substrate induces assembly of cytoplasmic protein complexes termed focal adhesions (FAs), which connect, albeit indirectly, the extracellular matrix to the cytoskeleton. A subset of cultured primary alveolar epithelial cells (AEC) display a unique pattern of vinculin/paxillin/talin-rich FAs in two concentric circles when cultured on glass and micropatterned substrates: one ring of FAs located at the cell periphery (pFAs), and another FA ring located centrally in the cell (cFAs). Unusually, cFAs associate with an aster-like actin array as well as keratin bundles. Moreover, cFAs show rapid paxillin turnover rates following fluorescence recovery after photobleaching and exert traction forces similar to those generated by FAs at the cell periphery. The plakin protein plectin localizes to cFAs and is normally absent from pFAs, whereas tensin, a marker of mature/fibrillar adhesions, is found in both cFAs and pFAs. In primary AEC in which plectin expression is depleted, cFAs are largely absent, with an attendant reorganization of both the keratin and actin cytoskeletons. We suggest that the mechanical environment in the lung gives rise to the assembly of unconventional FAs in AEC. These FAs not only show a distinctive arrangement, but also possess unique compositional and functional properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3746-3755
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of cell science
Issue number16
StatePublished - 2013


  • Alveolar epithelial cells
  • Cytoskeleton
  • Focal adhesion
  • Traction force

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology

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