Imperial College London

DrArmandoDel Rio Hernandez

Faculty of EngineeringDepartment of Bioengineering

Senior Lecturer



+44 (0)20 7594 5187a.del-rio-hernandez




308Bessemer BuildingSouth Kensington Campus






BibTex format

author = {Mykuliak, V and Haining, A and von, Essen M and Del, Rio Hernandez AE and Hytonen, V},
doi = {10.1371/journal.pcbi.1006126},
journal = {PLoS Computational Biology},
title = {Mechanical unfolding reveals stable 3-helix intermediates in talin and α-catenin},
url = {},
volume = {14},
year = {2018}

RIS format (EndNote, RefMan)

AB - Mechanical stability is a key feature in the regulation of structural scaffolding proteins and their functions. Despite the abundance of α-helical structures among the human proteome and their undisputed importance in health and disease, the fundamental principles of their behavior under mechanical load are poorly understood. Talin and α-catenin are two key molecules in focal adhesions and adherens junctions, respectively. In this study, we used a combination of atomistic steered molecular dynamics (SMD) simulations, polyprotein engineering, and single-molecule atomic force microscopy (smAFM) to investigate unfolding of these proteins. SMD simulations revealed that talin rod α-helix bundles as well as α-catenin α-helix domains unfold through stable 3-helix intermediates. While the 5-helix bundles were found to be mechanically stable, a second stable conformation corresponding to the 3-helix state was revealed. Mechanically weaker 4-helix bundles easily unfolded into a stable 3-helix conformation. The results of smAFM experiments were in agreement with the findings of the computational simulations. The disulfide clamp mutants, designed to protect the stable state, support the 3-helix intermediate model in both experimental and computational setups. As a result, multiple discrete unfolding intermediate states in the talin and α-catenin unfolding pathway were discovered. Better understanding of the mechanical unfolding mechanism of α-helix proteins is a key step towards comprehensive models describing the mechanoregulation of proteins.
AU - Mykuliak,V
AU - Haining,A
AU - von,Essen M
AU - Del,Rio Hernandez AE
AU - Hytonen,V
DO - 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1006126
PY - 2018///
SN - 1553-734X
TI - Mechanical unfolding reveals stable 3-helix intermediates in talin and α-catenin
T2 - PLoS Computational Biology
UR -
UR -
VL - 14
ER -