The synthetic peptide Gly-Arg-Gly-Asp-Ser (GRGDS) mimics the cellular binding site of many adhesive proteins in the extracellular matrix and causes rounding and detachment of spread cells. We have studied whether its binding affects the associations of two major components, alpha-actinin and vinculin, at the adhesion plaque. Living 3T3 cells were microinjected with fluorescently labeled alpha-actinin and/or vinculin and observed using video microscopy before and after the addition of 50 micrograms/ml GRGDS. As soon as 5 min after treatment, fluorescent alpha-actinin and vinculin became dissociated simultaneously from the sites of many focal contacts. The proteins either moved away as discrete structures or dispersed from adhesion plaques. As a result, the enrichment of alpha-actinin and vinculin at these focal contacts was no longer detected. The focal contacts then faded away slowly without showing detectable movement. These data suggest that the binding state of integrin has a transmembrane effect on the distribution of cytoskeletal components. The dissociation of alpha-actinin and vinculin from adhesion plaques may in turn weaken the contacts and result in rounding and detachment of cells.

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