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Duan, R., Kim, J.H., Shilagardi, K., Schiffhauer, E.S., Lee, D.M., Son, S., Li, S., Thomas, C., Luo, T., Fletcher, D.A., Robinson, D.N., Chen, E.H. (2018). Spectrin is a mechanoresponsive protein shaping fusogenic synapse architecture during myoblast fusion.  Nat. Cell Biol. 20(6): 688--698.
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Research paper
Spectrin is a membrane skeletal protein best known for its structural role in maintaining cell shape and protecting cells from mechanical damage. Here, we report that α/βH-spectrin (βH is also called karst) dynamically accumulates and dissolves at the fusogenic synapse between fusing Drosophila muscle cells, where an attacking fusion partner invades its receiving partner with actin-propelled protrusions to promote cell fusion. Using genetics, cell biology, biophysics and mathematical modelling, we demonstrate that spectrin exhibits a mechanosensitive accumulation in response to shear deformation, which is highly elevated at the fusogenic synapse. The transiently accumulated spectrin network functions as a cellular fence to restrict the diffusion of cell-adhesion molecules and a cellular sieve to constrict the invasive protrusions, thereby increasing the mechanical tension of the fusogenic synapse to promote cell membrane fusion. Our study reveals a function of spectrin as a mechanoresponsive protein and has general implications for understanding spectrin function in dynamic cellular processes.
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PubMed Central ID
PMC6397639 (PMC) (EuropePMC)
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    Publication Type
    Nat. Cell Biol.
    Nature Cell Biology
    Publication Year
    1465-7392 1476-4679
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    Genes (8)
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    Cell Lines (2)