Mechanosensing is an integral part of many physiological processes including stem cell differentiation, fibrosis, and cancer progression. Two major mechanosensing systems—focal adhesions and mechanosensitive ion channels—can convert mechanical features of the microenvironment into biochemical signals. We report here unexpectedly that the mechanosensitive calcium-permeable channel Piezo1, previously perceived to be diffusive on plasma membranes, binds to matrix adhesions in a force-dependent manner, promoting cell spreading, adhesion dynamics, and calcium entry in normal but not in most cancer cells tested except some glioblastoma lines. A linker domain in Piezo1 is needed for binding to adhesions, and overexpression of the domain blocks Piezo1 binding to adhesions, decreasing adhesion size and cell spread area. Thus, we suggest that Piezo1 is a previously unidentified component of focal adhesions in nontransformed cells that catalyzes adhesion maturation and growth through force-dependent calcium signaling, but this function is absent in most cancer cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas