Piconewton forces mediate GAIN domain dissociation of the latrophilin-3 adhesion GPCR

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Latrophilins are adhesion G-protein coupled receptors (aGPCRs) that control excitatory synapse formation. aGPCRs, including latrophilins, are autoproteolytically cleaved at their GPCR-Autoproteolysis Inducing (GAIN) domain, but the two resulting fragments remain associated on the cell surface. It is thought that force-mediated dissociation of the fragments exposes a peptide that activates G-protein signaling of aGPCRs, but whether GAIN domain dissociation can occur on biologically relevant timescales and at physiological forces is unknown. Here, we show using magnetic tweezers that physiological forces dramatically accelerate the dissociation of the latrophilin-3 GAIN domain. Forces in the 1-10 pN range were sufficient to dissociate the GAIN domain on a seconds-to-minutes timescale, and the GAIN domain fragments reversibly reassociated after dissociation. Thus, mechanical force may be a key driver of latrophilin signaling during synapse formation, suggesting a physiological mechanism by which aGPCRs may mediate mechanically-induced signal transduction.

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