Force transmission by retrograde actin flow-induced dynamic molecular stretching of Talin

Nat Commun. 2023 Dec 20;14(1):8468. doi: 10.1038/s41467-023-44018-z.


Force transmission at integrin-based adhesions is important for cell migration and mechanosensing. Talin is an essential focal adhesion (FA) protein that links F-actin to integrins. F-actin constantly moves on FAs, yet how Talin simultaneously maintains the connection to F-actin and transmits forces to integrins remains unclear. Here we show a critical role of dynamic Talin unfolding in force transmission. Using single-molecule speckle microscopy, we found that the majority of Talin are bound only to either F-actin or the substrate, whereas 4.1% of Talin is linked to both structures via elastic transient clutch. By reconstituting Talin knockdown cells with Talin chimeric mutants, in which the Talin rod subdomains are replaced with the stretchable β-spectrin repeats, we show that the stretchable property is critical for force transmission. Simulations suggest that unfolding of the Talin rod subdomains increases in the linkage duration and work at FAs. This study elucidates a force transmission mechanism, in which stochastic molecular stretching bridges two cellular structures moving at different speeds.

MeSH terms

  • Actin Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Actins* / metabolism
  • Focal Adhesions / metabolism
  • Integrins / metabolism
  • Talin* / metabolism


  • Actins
  • Talin
  • Integrins