Ultra-rapid activation of TRPV4 ion channels by mechanical forces applied to cell surface beta1 integrins

Integr Biol (Camb). 2010 Sep;2(9):435-42. doi: 10.1039/c0ib00034e. Epub 2010 Aug 20.


Integrins are ubiquitous transmembrane mechanoreceptors that elicit changes in intracellular biochemistry in response to mechanical force application, but these alterations generally proceed over seconds to minutes. Stress-sensitive ion channels represent another class of mechanoreceptors that are activated much more rapidly (within msec), and recent findings suggest that calcium influx through Transient Receptor Potential Vanilloid-4 (TRPV4) channels expressed in the plasma membrane of bovine capillary endothelial cells is required for mechanical strain-induced changes in focal adhesion assembly, cell orientation and directional migration. However, whether mechanically stretching a cell's extracellular matrix (ECM) adhesions might directly activate cell surface ion channels remains unknown. Here we show that forces applied to beta1 integrins result in ultra-rapid (within 4 msec) activation of calcium influx through TRPV4 channels. The TRPV4 channels were specifically activated by mechanical strain in the cytoskeletal backbone of the focal adhesion, and not by deformation of the lipid bilayer or submembranous cortical cytoskeleton alone. This early-immediate calcium signaling response required the distal region of the beta1 integrin cytoplasmic tail that contains a binding site for the integrin-associated transmembrane CD98 protein, and external force application to CD98 within focal adhesions activated the same ultra-rapid calcium signaling response. Local direct strain-dependent activation of TRPV4 channels mediated by force transfer from integrins and CD98 may therefore enable compartmentalization of calcium signaling within focal adhesions that is critical for mechanical control of many cell behaviors that underlie cell and tissue development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Calcium Signaling
  • Cattle
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Endothelial Cells / physiology
  • Focal Adhesions / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Integrin beta1 / metabolism*
  • Kinetics
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • TRPV Cation Channels / antagonists & inhibitors
  • TRPV Cation Channels / genetics
  • TRPV Cation Channels / metabolism*


  • Integrin beta1
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • TRPV Cation Channels