Kindlin-2 belongs to an emerging class of regulators for heterodimeric (α/β) integrin adhesion receptors. By binding to integrin β cytoplasmic tail via its C-terminal FERM-like domain, kindlin-2 promotes integrin activation. Intriguingly, this activation process depends on the N terminus of kindlin-2 (K2-N) that precedes the FERM domain. The molecular function of K2-N is unclear. We present the solution structure of K2-N, which displays a ubiquitin fold similar to that observed in kindlin-1. Using chemical shift mapping and mutagenesis, we found that K2-N contains a conserved positively charged surface that binds to membrane enriched with negatively charged phosphatidylinositol-(4,5)-bisphosphate. We show that while wild-type kindlin-2 is capable of promoting integrin activation, such ability is significantly reduced for its membrane-binding defective mutant. These data suggest a membrane-binding function of the ubiquitin-like domain of kindlin-2, which is likely common for all kindlins to promote their localization to the plasma membrane and control integrin activation.
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