Talin is a large adaptor protein that activates integrins and couples them to cytoskeletal actin. Talin contains an N-terminal FERM (band 4.1, ezrin, radixin, moesin) domain (the head) linked to a flexible rod comprised of 13 amphipathic helical bundles (R1-R13) that terminate in a C-terminal helix (DD) that forms an anti-parallel dimer. We derived a three-dimensional structural model of full-length talin at a resolution of approximately 2.5nm using EM reconstruction of full-length talin and the known shapes of the individual domains and inter-domain angles as derived from small angle X-ray scattering. Talin adopts a compact conformation consistent with a dimer in which the two talin rods form a donut-shaped structure, with the two talin heads packed side by side occupying the hole at the center of this donut. In this configuration, the integrin binding site in the head domain and the actin-binding site at the carboxy-terminus of the rod are masked, implying that talin must unravel before it can support integrin activation and engage the actin cytoskeleton.
Keywords: Actin cytoskeleton; Electron microscopy; Focal adhesions; Integrin; NMR; SAXS.
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