Focal adhesion composition and size are modulated in a myosin II-dependent maturation process that controls adhesion, migration, and matrix remodeling. As myosin II activity drives stress fiber assembly and enhanced tension at adhesions simultaneously, the extent to which adhesion maturation is driven by tension or altered actin architecture is unknown. We show that perturbations to formin and α-actinin 1 activity selectively inhibited stress fiber assembly at adhesions but retained a contractile lamella that generated large tension on adhesions. Despite relatively unperturbed adhesion dynamics and force transmission, impaired stress fiber assembly impeded focal adhesion compositional maturation and fibronectin remodeling. Finally, we show that compositional maturation of focal adhesions could occur even when myosin II-dependent cellular tension was reduced by 80%. We propose that stress fiber assembly at the adhesion site serves as a structural template that facilitates adhesion maturation over a wide range of tensions. This work identifies the essential role of lamellar actin architecture in adhesion maturation.
© 2012 Oakes et al.