We report here on the identification of two distinct functional domains on chicken vinculin molecule, which can, independently, mediate its interaction with focal contacts in living cells. These findings were obtained by immunofluorescent labeling of COS cells transfected with a series of chicken vinculin-specific cDNA constructs derived from clones cVin1 and cVin5 (Bendori, R., D. Salomon, and B. Geiger. 1987. EMBO [Eur. Mol. Biol. Organ.] J. 6:2897-2905). These included a chimeric construct consisting of 5' sequences of cVin1 attached to the complementary 3' region of cVin5, as well as several constructs of either cVin1 or cVin5 from which 3' or 5' sequences were deleted. We show here that the products of both cVin1 and cVin5, and of the cVin1/cVin5 chimera, readily associated with focal contacts in transfected COS cells. Furthermore, 78 and 45 kD NH2-terminal fragments encoded by a deleted cVin1 and the 78-kD COOH-terminal portion of vinculin encoded by cVin5 were capable of binding specifically to focal contact areas. In contrast 3'-deletion mutants prepared from clone cVin5 and a 5'-deletion mutant of cVin1, lacking both NH2- and COOH-terminal sequences, failed to associate with focal contacts in transfected cells. The loss of binding was accompanied by an overall disarray of the microfilament system. These results, together with previous in vitro binding studies, suggest that vinculin contains at least two independent sites for binding to focal contacts; the NH2-terminal domain may contain the talin binding site while the COOH-terminal domain may mediate vinculin-vinculin interaction. Moreover, the disruptive effect of the double-deleted molecule (lacking the two focal-contact binding sites) on the organization of actin suggests that a distinct region involved in the binding of vinculin to the microfilament system is present in the NH2-terminal 45-kD region of the molecule.

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