Alpha-actinin interactions with syndecan-4 are integral to fibroblast-matrix adhesion and regulate cytoskeletal architecture

E. Okina, A. Grossi, S. Gopal, H.A.B. Multhaupt, J.R. Couchman

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All cells of the musculoskeletal system possess transmembrane syndecan proteoglycans, notably syndecan-4. In fibroblasts it regulates integrin-mediated adhesion to the extracellular matrix. Syndecan-4 null mice have a complex wound repair phenotype while their fibroblasts have reduced focal adhesions and matrix contraction abilities. Signalling through syndecan-4 core protein to the actin cytoskeleton involves protein kinase Cα and Rho family G proteins but also direct interactions with α-actinin. The contribution of the latter interaction to cell–matrix adhesion is not defined but investigated here since manipulation of Rho GTPase and its downstream targets could not restore a wild type microfilament organisation to syndecan-4 null cells. Microarray and protein analysis revealed no significant alterations in mRNA or protein levels for actin- or α-actinin associated proteins when wild type and syndecan-4 knockout fibroblasts were compared. The binding site for syndecan-4 cytoplasmic domain was identified as spectrin repeat 4 of α-actinin while further experiments confirmed the importance of this interaction in stabilising cell–matrix junctions. However, α-actinin is also present in adherens junctions, these organelles not being disrupted in the absence of syndecan-4. Indeed, co-culture of wild type and knockout cells led to adherens junction-associated stress fibre formation in cells lacking syndecan-4, supporting the hypothesis that the proteoglycan regulates cell–matrix adhesion and its associated microfilament bundles at a post-translational level. These data provide an additional dimension to syndecan function related to tension at the cell–matrix interface, wound healing and potentially fibrosis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2161-2174
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Biochemistry & Cell Biology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • microfilaments
  • focal adhesions
  • adherens junctions
  • proteoglycan
  • heparan sulphate

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