Staff member

Manuel Gómez González

Staff member publications

Barbazan, J, Pérez-González, C, Gómez-González, M, Dedenon, M, Richon, S, Latorre, E, Serra, M, Mariani, P, Descroix, S, Sens, P, Trepat, X, Vignjevic, DM, (2023). Cancer-associated fibroblasts actively compress cancer cells and modulate mechanotransduction Nature Communications 14, 6966

During tumor progression, cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) accumulate in tumors and produce an excessive extracellular matrix (ECM), forming a capsule that enwraps cancer cells. This capsule acts as a barrier that restricts tumor growth leading to the buildup of intratumoral pressure. Combining genetic and physical manipulations in vivo with microfabrication and force measurements in vitro, we found that the CAFs capsule is not a passive barrier but instead actively compresses cancer cells using actomyosin contractility. Abrogation of CAFs contractility in vivo leads to the dissipation of compressive forces and impairment of capsule formation. By mapping CAF force patterns in 3D, we show that compression is a CAF-intrinsic property independent of cancer cell growth. Supracellular coordination of CAFs is achieved through fibronectin cables that serve as scaffolds allowing force transmission. Cancer cells mechanosense CAF compression, resulting in an altered localization of the transcriptional regulator YAP and a decrease in proliferation. Our study unveils that the contractile capsule actively compresses cancer cells, modulates their mechanical signaling, and reorganizes tumor morphology.© 2023. The Author(s).

JTD Keywords: force, migration, yap, Tumor

Kechagia, Z, Sáez, P, Gómez-González, M, Canales, B, Viswanadha, S, Zamarbide, M, Andreu, I, Koorman, T, Beedle, AEM, Elosegui-Artola, A, Derksen, PWB, Trepat, X, Arroyo, M, Roca-Cusachs, P, (2023). The laminin-keratin link shields the nucleus from mechanical deformation and signalling Nature Materials 22, 1409-1420

The mechanical properties of the extracellular matrix dictate tissue behaviour. In epithelial tissues, laminin is a very abundant extracellular matrix component and a key supporting element. Here we show that laminin hinders the mechanoresponses of breast epithelial cells by shielding the nucleus from mechanical deformation. Coating substrates with laminin-111-unlike fibronectin or collagen I-impairs cell response to substrate rigidity and YAP nuclear localization. Blocking the laminin-specific integrin β4 increases nuclear YAP ratios in a rigidity-dependent manner without affecting the cell forces or focal adhesions. By combining mechanical perturbations and mathematical modelling, we show that β4 integrins establish a mechanical linkage between the substrate and keratin cytoskeleton, which stiffens the network and shields the nucleus from actomyosin-mediated mechanical deformation. In turn, this affects the nuclear YAP mechanoresponses, chromatin methylation and cell invasion in three dimensions. Our results demonstrate a mechanism by which tissues can regulate their sensitivity to mechanical signals.© 2023. The Author(s).

JTD Keywords: actin, cell migration, filaments, force transmission, localization, membrane, motility, proteins, yap, Integrin alpha-6-beta-4

Marín-Llauradó, A, Kale, S, Ouzeri, A, Golde, T, Sunyer, R, Torres-Sánchez, A, Latorre, E, Gómez-González, M, Roca-Cusachs, P, Arroyo, M, Trepat, X, (2023). Mapping mechanical stress in curved epithelia of designed size and shape Nature Communications 14, 4014

The function of organs such as lungs, kidneys and mammary glands relies on the three-dimensional geometry of their epithelium. To adopt shapes such as spheres, tubes and ellipsoids, epithelia generate mechanical stresses that are generally unknown. Here we engineer curved epithelial monolayers of controlled size and shape and map their state of stress. We design pressurized epithelia with circular, rectangular and ellipsoidal footprints. We develop a computational method, called curved monolayer stress microscopy, to map the stress tensor in these epithelia. This method establishes a correspondence between epithelial shape and mechanical stress without assumptions of material properties. In epithelia with spherical geometry we show that stress weakly increases with areal strain in a size-independent manner. In epithelia with rectangular and ellipsoidal cross-section we find pronounced stress anisotropies that impact cell alignment. Our approach enables a systematic study of how geometry and stress influence epithelial fate and function in three-dimensions.© 2023. The Author(s).

JTD Keywords: cell, forces, morphogenesis, tension, E-cadherin

Pallares, ME, Pi-Jauma, I, Fortunato, IC, Grazu, V, Gomez-Gonzalez, M, Roca-Cusachs, P, de la Fuente, JM, Alert, R, Sunyer, R, Casademunt, J, Trepat, X, (2023). Stiffness-dependent active wetting enables optimal collective cell durotaxis Nature Physics 19, 279-+

The directed migration of cellular clusters enables morphogenesis, wound healing and collective cancer invasion. Gradients of substrate stiffness direct the migration of cellular clusters in a process called collective durotaxis, but the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. Here we unveil a connection between collective durotaxis and the wetting properties of cellular clusters. We show that clusters of cancer cells dewet soft substrates and wet stiff ones. At intermediate stiffness-at the crossover from low to high wettability-clusters on uniform-stiffness substrates become maximally motile, and clusters on stiffness gradients exhibit optimal durotaxis. Durotactic velocity increases with cluster size, stiffness gradient and actomyosin activity. We demonstrate this behaviour on substrates coated with the cell-cell adhesion protein E-cadherin and then establish its generality on substrates coated with extracellular matrix. We develop an active wetting model that explains collective durotaxis in terms of a balance between in-plane active traction and tissue contractility and out-of-plane surface tension. Finally, we show that the distribution of cluster displacements has a heavy tail, with infrequent but large cellular hops that contribute to durotactic migration. Our study demonstrates a physical mechanism of collective durotaxis, through both cell-cell and cell-substrate adhesion ligands, based on the wetting properties of active droplets.

JTD Keywords: Adhesion, Dynamics, E-cadherin, Gradient, Migration, Model, Motility, Movements, Rigidity, Substrate stiffness

Sunyer, R, Pallares, ME, Pi-Jaumà, I, Fortunato, IC, Grazú, V, Gómez-González, M, Roca-Cusachs, P, de la Furente, JM, Alert, R, Casademunt, J, Trepat, X, (2023). Optimal collective durotaxis through E-cadherin adhesions Molecular Biology Of The Cell 34, 303-304

Donker, L, Houtekamer, R, Vliem, M, Sipieter, F, Canever, H, Gómez-González, M, Bosch-Padrós, M, Pannekoek, WJ, Trepat, X, Borghi, N, Gloerich, M, (2022). A mechanical G2 checkpoint controls epithelial cell division through E-cadherin-mediated regulation of Wee1-Cdk1 Cell Reports 41, 111475

Epithelial cell divisions are coordinated with cell loss to preserve epithelial integrity. However, how epithelia adapt their rate of cell division to changes in cell number, for instance during homeostatic turnover or wounding, is not well understood. Here, we show that epithelial cells sense local cell density through mechanosensitive E-cadherin adhesions to control G2/M cell-cycle progression. As local cell density increases, tensile forces on E-cadherin adhesions are reduced, which prompts the accumulation of the G2 checkpoint kinase Wee1 and downstream inhibitory phosphorylation of Cdk1. Consequently, dense epithelia contain a pool of cells that are temporarily halted in G2 phase. These cells are readily triggered to divide following epithelial wounding due to the consequent increase in intercellular forces and resulting degradation of Wee1. Our data collectively show that epithelial cell division is controlled by a mechanical G2 checkpoint, which is regulated by cell-density-dependent intercellular forces sensed and transduced by E-cadherin adhesions.Copyright © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords: Adherens junction, Cell cycle, Cell division, Cp: cell biology, E-cadherin, Epithelial homeostasis, G2 checkpoint, Mechanical forces, Mechanotransduction, Mitosis, Proliferation

Barbacena, P, Dominguez-Cejudo, M, Fonseca, CG, Gómez-González, M, Faure, LM, Zarkada, G, Pena, A, Pezzarossa, A, Ramalho, D, Giarratano, Y, Ouarné, M, Barata, D, Fortunato, IC, Misikova, LH, Mauldin, I, Carvalho, Y, Trepat, X, Roca-Cusachs, P, Eichmann, A, Bernabeu, MO, Franco, CA, (2022). Competition for endothelial cell polarity drives vascular morphogenesis in the mouse retina Developmental Cell 57, 2321-+

Blood-vessel formation generates unique vascular patterns in each individual. The principles governing the apparent stochasticity of this process remain to be elucidated. Using mathematical methods, we find that the transition between two fundamental vascular morphogenetic programs-sprouting angiogenesis and vascular remodeling-is established by a shift of collective front-to-rear polarity of endothelial cells in the mouse retina. We demonstrate that the competition between biochemical (VEGFA) and mechanical (blood-flow-induced shear stress) cues controls this collective polarity shift. Shear stress increases tension at focal adhesions overriding VEGFA-driven collective polarization, which relies on tension at adherens junctions. We propose that vascular morphogenetic cues compete to regulate individual cell polarity and migration through tension shifts that translates into tissue-level emergent behaviors, ultimately leading to uniquely organized vascular patterns.Copyright © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords: activation, angiogenesis, dynamics, flow, forces, image, mechanisms, vinculin, Angiogenesis, Cell polarity, Fluid shear, Mechanobiology, Morphogenesis, Shear stress

Pérez-González, C, Ceada, G, Greco, F, Matejcic, M, Gómez-González, M, Castro, N, Menendez, A, Kale, S, Krndija, D, Clark, AG, Gannavarapu, VR, Alvarez-Varela, A, Roca-Cusachs, P, Batlle, E, Vignjevic, DM, Arroyo, M, Trepat, X, (2021). Mechanical compartmentalization of the intestinal organoid enables crypt folding and collective cell migration Nature Cell Biology 23, 745-+

Intestinal organoids capture essential features of the intestinal epithelium such as crypt folding, cellular compartmentalization and collective movements. Each of these processes and their coordination require patterned forces that are at present unknown. Here we map three-dimensional cellular forces in mouse intestinal organoids grown on soft hydrogels. We show that these organoids exhibit a non-monotonic stress distribution that defines mechanical and functional compartments. The stem cell compartment pushes the extracellular matrix and folds through apical constriction, whereas the transit amplifying zone pulls the extracellular matrix and elongates through basal constriction. The size of the stem cell compartment depends on the extracellular-matrix stiffness and endogenous cellular forces. Computational modelling reveals that crypt shape and force distribution rely on cell surface tensions following cortical actomyosin density. Finally, cells are pulled out of the crypt along a gradient of increasing tension. Our study unveils how patterned forces enable compartmentalization, folding and collective migration in the intestinal epithelium. Perez-Gonzalez et al. explore the mechanical properties of intestinal organoids, and report the existence of distinct mechanical domains and that cells are pulled out of the central crypt along a gradient of increasing tension.

JTD Keywords: Forces, Growth, Gut, Monolayers, Morphogenesis, Reveal, Stem-cells, Tension

Gómez-González, M., Latorre, E., Arroyo, M., Trepat, X., (2020). Measuring mechanical stress in living tissues Nature Reviews Physics 2, (6), 300-317

Living tissues are active, multifunctional materials capable of generating, sensing, withstanding and responding to mechanical stress. These capabilities enable tissues to adopt complex shapes during development, to sustain those shapes during homeostasis and to restore them during healing and regeneration. Abnormal stress is associated with a broad range of pathological conditions, including developmental defects, inflammatory diseases, tumour growth and metastasis. A number of techniques are available to measure mechanical stress in living tissues at cellular and subcellular resolution. 2D techniques that map stress in cultured cell monolayers provide the highest resolution and accessibility, and include 2D traction force microscopy, micropillar arrays, monolayer stress microscopy and monolayer stretching between flexible cantilevers. Mapping stresses in tissues cultured in 3D can be achieved using 3D traction force microscopy and the microbulge test. Techniques for measuring stress in vivo include servo-null methods for measuring luminal pressure, deformable inclusions, Förster resonance energy transfer tension sensors, laser ablation and computational methods for force inference. Although these techniques are far from becoming everyday tools in biomedical laboratories, their rapid development is fostering key advances in our understanding of the role of mechanics in morphogenesis, homeostasis and disease.


Pérez-González, Carlos, Alert, Ricard, Blanch-Mercader, Carles, Gómez-González, Manuel, Kolodziej, Tomasz, Bazellieres, Elsa, Casademunt, Jaume, Trepat, Xavier, (2019). Active wetting of epithelial tissues Nature Physics 15, 79-88

Development, regeneration and cancer involve drastic transitions in tissue morphology. In analogy with the behaviour of inert fluids, some of these transitions have been interpreted as wetting transitions. The validity and scope of this analogy are unclear, however, because the active cellular forces that drive tissue wetting have been neither measured nor theoretically accounted for. Here we show that the transition between two-dimensional epithelial monolayers and three-dimensional spheroidal aggregates can be understood as an active wetting transition whose physics differs fundamentally from that of passive wetting phenomena. By combining an active polar fluid model with measurements of physical forces as a function of tissue size, contractility, cell–cell and cell–substrate adhesion, and substrate stiffness, we show that the wetting transition results from the competition between traction forces and contractile intercellular stresses. This competition defines a new intrinsic length scale that gives rise to a critical size for the wetting transition in tissues, a striking feature that has no counterpart in classical wetting. Finally, we show that active shape fluctuations are dynamically amplified during tissue dewetting. Overall, we conclude that tissue spreading constitutes a prominent example of active wetting—a novel physical scenario that may explain morphological transitions during tissue morphogenesis and tumour progression.


Latorre, Ernest, Kale, Sohan, Casares, Laura, Gómez-González, Manuel, Uroz, Marina, Valon, Léo, Nair, Roshna V., Garreta, Elena, Montserrat, Nuria, del Campo, Aránzazu, Ladoux, Benoit, Arroyo, Marino, Trepat, Xavier, (2018). Active superelasticity in three-dimensional epithelia of controlled shape Nature 563, (7730), 203-208

Fundamental biological processes are carried out by curved epithelial sheets that enclose a pressurized lumen. How these sheets develop and withstand three-dimensional deformations has remained unclear. Here we combine measurements of epithelial tension and shape with theoretical modelling to show that epithelial sheets are active superelastic materials. We produce arrays of epithelial domes with controlled geometry. Quantification of luminal pressure and epithelial tension reveals a tensional plateau over several-fold areal strains. These extreme strains in the tissue are accommodated by highly heterogeneous strains at a cellular level, in seeming contradiction to the measured tensional uniformity. This phenomenon is reminiscent of superelasticity, a behaviour that is generally attributed to microscopic material instabilities in metal alloys. We show that in epithelial cells this instability is triggered by a stretch-induced dilution of the actin cortex, and is rescued by the intermediate filament network. Our study reveals a type of mechanical behaviour—which we term active superelasticity—that enables epithelial sheets to sustain extreme stretching under constant tension.