The repertoire of extratranslational functions of components of the protein synthesis apparatus is expanding to include control of key cell signaling networks. However, very little is known about noncanonical functions of members of the protein synthesis machinery in regulating cellular mechanics. We demonstrate that the eukaryotic initiation factor 6 (eIF6) modulates cellular mechanobiology. eIF6-depleted endothelial cells, under basal conditions, exhibit unchanged nascent protein synthesis, polysome profiles, and cytoskeleton protein expression, with minimal effects on ribosomal biogenesis. In contrast, using traction force and atomic force microscopy, we show that loss of eIF6 leads to reduced stiffness and force generation accompanied by cytoskeletal and focal adhesion defects. Mechanistically, we show that eIF6 is required for the correct spatial mechanoactivation of ERK1/2 via stabilization of an eIF6-RACK1-ERK1/2-FAK mechanocomplex, which is necessary for force-induced remodeling. These results reveal an extratranslational function for eIF6 and a novel paradigm for how mechanotransduction, the cellular cytoskeleton, and protein translation constituents are linked.
J Cell Biol