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by Keyword: Cytoskeleton

Kechagia, Z, Roca-Cusachs, P, (2023). Cytoskeletal safeguards: Protecting the nucleus from mechanical perturbations Curr Opin Biomed Eng 28, 100494

The cell nucleus plays a key role in cellular mechanoresponses. 3D genome organisation, gene expression, and cell behaviour, in general, are affected by mechanical force application to the nucleus, which is transmitted from the cellular environment via a network of interconnected cytoskeletal components. To effectively regulate cell responses, these cytoskeletal components must not only exert forces but also withstand external forces when necessary. This review delves into the latest research concerning how the cytoskeleton safeguards the nucleus from mechanical perturbations. Spe-cifically, we focus on the three primary cytoskeletal polymers: actin, intermediate filaments, and microtubules, as well as their interactions with the cell nucleus. We discuss how the cyto-skeleton acts as a protective shield for the nucleus, ensuring structural integrity and conveying context-specific mechanoresponses.

JTD Keywords: Actin, Architecture, Cytoskeleton, Envelope, F-actin, Filaments, Force, Genome, Intermediate filaments, Lamin, Mechanotransduction, Membrane protein, Microtubules, Nesprin-1, Nucleus


Javier-Reyna R, Avalos-Padilla Y, Marion S, (2023). Editorial: Vesicular transport, the actin cytoskeleton and their involvement in virulence mechanisms during host-parasite interaction Frontiers In Cellular And Infection Microbiology 13, 1229067

Andrés-Benito, P, Iñigo-Marco, I, Brullas, M, Carmona, M, del Rio, JA, Fernández-Irigoyen, J, Santamaría, E, Povedano, M, Ferrer, I, (2023). Proteostatic modulation in brain aging without associated Alzheimer's disease-and age-related neuropathological changes Aging-Us 15, 3295-3330

(Phospho)proteomics of old-aged subjects without cognitive or behavioral symptoms, and without AD-neuropathological changes and lacking any other neurodegenerative alteration will increase understanding about the physiological state of human brain aging without associate neurological deficits and neuropathological lesions.(Phospho)proteomics using conventional label-free- and SWATH-MS (Sequential window acquisition of all theoretical fragment ion spectra mass spectrometry) has been assessed in the frontal cortex (FC) of individuals without NFTs, senile plaques (SPs) and age-related co-morbidities classified by age (years) in four groups; group 1 (young, 30-44); group 2 (middle-aged: MA, 45-52); group 3 (early-elderly, 64-70); and group 4 (late-elderly, 75-85).Protein levels and deregulated protein phosphorylation linked to similar biological terms/functions, but involving different individual proteins, are found in FC with age. The modified expression occurs in cytoskeleton proteins, membranes, synapses, vesicles, myelin, membrane transport and ion channels, DNA and RNA metabolism, ubiquitin-proteasome-system (UPS), kinases and phosphatases, fatty acid metabolism, and mitochondria. Dysregulated phosphoproteins are associated with the cytoskeleton, including microfilaments, actin-binding proteins, intermediate filaments of neurons and glial cells, and microtubules; membrane proteins, synapses, and dense core vesicles; kinases and phosphatases; proteins linked to DNA and RNA; members of the UPS; GTPase regulation; inflammation; and lipid metabolism. Noteworthy, protein levels of large clusters of hierarchically-related protein expression levels are stable until 70. However, protein levels of components of cell membranes, vesicles and synapses, RNA modulation, and cellular structures (including tau and tubulin filaments) are markedly altered from the age of 75. Similarly, marked modifications occur in the larger phosphoprotein clusters involving cytoskeleton and neuronal structures, membrane stabilization, and kinase regulation in the late elderly.Present findings may increase understanding of human brain proteostasis modifications in the elderly in the subpopulation of individuals not having AD neuropathological change and any other neurodegenerative change in any telencephalon region.

JTD Keywords: (phospho)proteomics, cortex, cytoskeleton, hippocampus, kinases, membranes, mitochondria, mitochondrial-function, pathological process, phosphoproteome analysis, phosphorylation, proteome, quantitative proteomics, synapsis, tau-protein, therapeutic target, (phospho)proteomics, Brain aging, Cytoskeleton, Kinases, Membranes, Mitochondria, Neurodegenerative diseases, Proteome, Synapsis


Comelles, J, Fernández-Majada, V, Acevedo, V, Rebollo-Calderon, B, Martínez, E, (2023). Soft topographical patterns trigger a stiffness-dependent cellular response to contact guidance Materials Today Bio 19, 100593

Topographical patterns are a powerful tool to study directional migration. Grooved substrates have been extensively used as in vitro models of aligned extracellular matrix fibers because they induce cell elongation, alignment, and migration through a phenomenon known as contact guidance. This process, which involves the orientation of focal adhesions, F-actin, and microtubule cytoskeleton along the direction of the grooves, has been primarily studied on hard materials of non-physiological stiffness. But how it unfolds when the stiffness of the grooves varies within the physiological range is less known. Here we show that substrate stiffness modulates the cellular response to topographical contact guidance. We find that for fibroblasts, while focal adhesions and actin respond to topography independently of the stiffness, microtubules show a stiffness-dependent response that regulates contact guidance. On the other hand, both clusters and single breast carcinoma epithelial cells display stiffness-dependent contact guidance, leading to more directional and efficient migration when increasing substrate stiffness. These results suggest that both matrix stiffening and alignment of extracellular matrix fibers cooperate during directional cell migration, and that the outcome differs between cell types depending on how they organize their cytoskeletons.© 2023 The Authors.

JTD Keywords: actin, behavior, cell migration, contact guidance, cytoskeleton, fibroblasts, focal adhesions, matrix, microtubules, stiffness, stress fibers, topography, transduction, Contact guidance, Substrate stiffness, Topography


Andres-Benito, P, Flores, A, Busquet-Areny, S, Carmona, M, Ausin, K, Cartas-Cejudo, P, Lachen-Montes, M, Del Rio, JA, Fernandez-Irigoyen, J, Santamaria, E, Ferrer, I, (2023). Deregulated Transcription and Proteostasis in Adult mapt Knockout Mouse International Journal Of Molecular Sciences 24, 6559

Transcriptomics and phosphoproteomics were carried out in the cerebral cortex of B6.Cg-Mapttm1(EGFP)Klt (tau knockout: tau-KO) and wild-type (WT) 12 month-old mice to learn about the effects of tau ablation. Compared with WT mice, tau-KO mice displayed reduced anxiety-like behavior and lower fear expression induced by aversive conditioning, whereas recognition memory remained unaltered. Cortical transcriptomic analysis revealed 69 downregulated and 105 upregulated genes in tau-KO mice, corresponding to synaptic structures, neuron cytoskeleton and transport, and extracellular matrix components. RT-qPCR validated increased mRNA levels of col6a4, gabrq, gad1, grm5, grip2, map2, rab8a, tubb3, wnt16, and an absence of map1a in tau-KO mice compared with WT mice. A few proteins were assessed with Western blotting to compare mRNA expression with corresponding protein levels. Map1a mRNA and protein levels decreased. However, β-tubulin III and GAD1 protein levels were reduced in tau-KO mice. Cortical phosphoproteomics revealed 121 hypophosphorylated and 98 hyperphosphorylated proteins in tau-KO mice. Deregulated phosphoproteins were categorized into cytoskeletal (n = 45) and membrane proteins, including proteins of the synapses and vesicles, myelin proteins, and proteins linked to membrane transport and ion channels (n = 84), proteins related to DNA and RNA metabolism (n = 36), proteins connected to the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) (n = 7), proteins with kinase or phosphatase activity (n = 21), and 22 other proteins related to variegated pathways such as metabolic pathways, growth factors, or mitochondrial function or structure. The present observations reveal a complex altered brain transcriptome and phosphoproteome in tau-KO mice with only mild behavioral alterations.

JTD Keywords: computational platform, conformational-changes, cytoskeleton, disease, expression, isoforms, mechanisms, mice, phosphoproteomics, phosphorylation, synapse, tau-ko, tauopathies, transcriptomics, Tau-ko, Tau-protein, Transcriptomics


Cañellas-Socias A, Cortina C, Hernando-Momblona X, Palomo-Ponce S, Mulholland EJ, Turon G, Mateo L, Conti S, Roman O, Sevillano M, Slebe F, Stork D, Caballé-Mestres A, Berenguer-Llergo A, Álvarez-Varela A, Fenderico N, Novellasdemunt L, Jiménez-Gracia L, Sipka T, Bardia L, Lorden P, Colombelli J, Heyn H, Trepat X, Tejpar S, Sancho E, Tauriello DVF, Leedham S, Attolini CS, Batlle E, (2022). Metastatic recurrence in colorectal cancer arises from residual EMP1+ cells Nature 611, 603-+

Around 30-40% of patients with colorectal cancer (CRC) undergoing curative resection of the primary tumour will develop metastases in the subsequent years1. Therapies to prevent disease relapse remain an unmet medical need. Here we uncover the identity and features of the residual tumour cells responsible for CRC relapse. An analysis of single-cell transcriptomes of samples from patients with CRC revealed that the majority of genes associated with a poor prognosis are expressed by a unique tumour cell population that we named high-relapse cells (HRCs). We established a human-like mouse model of microsatellite-stable CRC that undergoes metastatic relapse after surgical resection of the primary tumour. Residual HRCs occult in mouse livers after primary CRC surgery gave rise to multiple cell types over time, including LGR5+ stem-like tumour cells2-4, and caused overt metastatic disease. Using Emp1 (encoding epithelial membrane protein 1) as a marker gene for HRCs, we tracked and selectively eliminated this cell population. Genetic ablation of EMP1high cells prevented metastatic recurrence and mice remained disease-free after surgery. We also found that HRC-rich micrometastases were infiltrated with T cells, yet became progressively immune-excluded during outgrowth. Treatment with neoadjuvant immunotherapy eliminated residual metastatic cells and prevented mice from relapsing after surgery. Together, our findings reveal the cell-state dynamics of residual disease in CRC and anticipate that therapies targeting HRCs may help to avoid metastatic relapse.© 2022. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.

JTD Keywords: colonization, defines, human colon, mutations, plasticity, retrieval, stem-cells, subtypes, underlie, Animal, Animal cell, Animal experiment, Animal model, Animal tissue, Animals, Article, Cancer, Cancer growth, Cancer immunotherapy, Cancer inhibition, Cancer recurrence, Cancer staging, Cell, Cell adhesion, Cell migration, Cell population, Cell surface receptor, Cohort analysis, Colorectal cancer, Colorectal neoplasms, Colorectal tumor, Comprehensive molecular characterization, Controlled study, Crispr-cas9 system, Cytoskeleton, Disease exacerbation, Disease progression, Dynamics, Emp1 gene, Epithelial membrane protein-1, Extracellular matrix, Flow cytometry, Fluorescence intensity, Gene expression, Genetics, Human, Human cell, Humans, Immune response, Immunofluorescence, In situ hybridization, Marker gene, Metastasis potential, Mice, Minimal residual disease, Mouse, Neoplasm proteins, Neoplasm recurrence, local, Neoplasm, residual, Nonhuman, Pathology, Phenotype, Prevention and control, Protein, Receptors, cell surface, Single cell rna seq, Tumor, Tumor protein, Tumor recurrence


Ferrer, I, Andres-Benito, P, Ausin, K, Cartas-Cejudo, P, Lachen-Montes, M, del Rio, JA, Fernandez-Irigoyen, J, Santamaria, E, (2022). Dysregulated Protein Phosphorylation in a Mouse Model of FTLD-Tau Journal Of Neuropathology And Experimental Neurology 81, 696-706

The neocortex of P301S mice, used as a model of fronto-temporal lobar degeneration linked to tau mutation (FTLD-tau), and wild-type mice, both aged 9 months, were analyzed with conventional label-free phosphoproteomics and SWATH-MS (sequential window acquisition of all theoretical fragment ion spectra mass spectrometry) to assess the (phospho)proteomes. The total number of identified dysregulated phosphoproteins was 328 corresponding to 524 phosphorylation sites. The majority of dysregulated phosphoproteins, most of them hyperphosphorylated, were proteins of the membranes, synapses, membrane trafficking, membrane vesicles linked to endo- and exocytosis, cytoplasmic vesicles, and cytoskeleton. Another group was composed of kinases. In contrast, proteins linked to DNA, RNA metabolism, RNA splicing, and protein synthesis were hypophosphorylated. Other pathways modulating energy metabolism, cell signaling, Golgi apparatus, carbohydrates, and lipids are also targets of dysregulated protein phosphorylation in P301S mice. The present results, together with accompanying immunohistochemical and Western-blotting studies, show widespread abnormal phosphorylation of proteins, in addition to protein tau, in P301S mice. These observations point to dysregulated protein phosphorylation as a relevant contributory pathogenic component of tauopathies.

JTD Keywords: (phospho)proteomics, cytoskeleton, kinases, membranes, tau, (phospho)proteomics, Cytoskeleton, Kinases, Membranes, Networks, Oxidative stress, Pathology, Phosphoproteome analysis, Tau, Tauopathy


Ferrer, I, Andres-Benito, P, Ausin, K, Cartas-Cejudo, P, Lachen-Montes, M, del Rio, JA, Fernandez-Irigoyen, J, Santamaria, E, (2022). Dysregulated Brain Protein Phosphorylation Linked to Increased Human Tau Expression in the hTau Transgenic Mouse Model International Journal Of Molecular Sciences 23, 6427

Altered protein phosphorylation is a major pathologic modification in tauopathies and Alzheimer's disease (AD) linked to abnormal tau fibrillar deposits in neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) and pre-tangles and beta-amyloid deposits in AD. hTau transgenic mice, which express 3R and less 4R human tau with no mutations in a murine knock-out background, show increased tau deposition in neurons but not NFTs and pre-tangles at the age of nine months. Label-free (phospho)proteomics and SWATH-MS identified 2065 proteins in hTau and wild-type (WT) mice. Only six proteins showed increased levels in hTau; no proteins were down-regulated. Increased tau phosphorylation in hTau was detected at Ser199, Ser202, Ser214, Ser396, Ser400, Thr403, Ser404, Ser413, Ser416, Ser422, Ser491, and Ser494, in addition to Thr181, Thr231, Ser396/Ser404, but not at Ser202/Thr205. In addition, 4578 phosphopeptides (corresponding to 1622 phosphoproteins) were identified in hTau and WT mice; 64 proteins were differentially phosphorylated in hTau. Sixty proteins were grouped into components of membranes, membrane signaling, synapses, vesicles, cytoskeleton, DNA/RNA/protein metabolism, ubiquitin/proteasome system, cholesterol and lipid metabolism, and cell signaling. These results showed that over-expression of human tau without pre-tangle and NFT formation preferentially triggers an imbalance in the phosphorylation profile of specific proteins involved in the cytoskeletal-membrane-signaling axis.

JTD Keywords: cytoskeleton, htau, membrane, phosphorylation, synapsis, tau, Aggregation, Alzheimers-disease, Animal-models, Cytoskeleton, Htau, Membrane, Mice, Networks, Pathology, Phosphoproteome analysis, Phosphorylation, Synapsis, Tau, Tauopathies, Tauopathy


Ferrer, I, Andrés-Benito, P, Ausín, K, Pamplona, R, del Rio, JA, Fernández-Irigoyen, J, Santamaría, E, (2021). Dysregulated protein phosphorylation: A determining condition in the continuum of brain aging and Alzheimer's disease Brain Pathology 31, e12996

Tau hyperphosphorylation is the first step of neurofibrillary tangle (NFT) formation. In the present study, samples of the entorhinal cortex (EC) and frontal cortex area 8 (FC) of cases with NFT pathology classified as stages I–II, III–IV, and V–VI without comorbidities, and of middle-aged (MA) individuals with no NFT pathology, were analyzed by conventional label-free and SWATH-MS (sequential window acquisition of all theoretical fragment ion spectra mass spectrometry) to assess the (phospho)proteomes. The total number of identified dysregulated phosphoproteins was 214 in the EC, 65 of which were dysregulated at the first stages (I–II) of NFT pathology; 167 phosphoproteins were dysregulated in the FC, 81 of them at stages I–II of NFT pathology. A large percentage of dysregulated phosphoproteins were identified in the two regions and at different stages of NFT progression. The main group of dysregulated phosphoproteins was made up of components of the membranes, cytoskeleton, synapses, proteins linked to membrane transport and ion channels, and kinases. The present results show abnormal phosphorylation of proteins at the first stages of NFT pathology in the elderly (in individuals clinically considered representative of normal aging) and sporadic Alzheimer's disease (sAD). Dysregulated protein phosphorylation in the FC precedes the formation of NFTs and SPs. The most active period of dysregulated phosphorylation is at stages III–IV when a subpopulation of individuals might be clinically categorized as suffering from mild cognitive impairment which is a preceding determinant stage in the progression to dementia. Altered phosphorylation of selected proteins, carried out by activation of several kinases, may alter membrane and cytoskeletal functions, among them synaptic transmission and membrane/cytoskeleton signaling. Besides their implications in sAD, the present observations suggest a molecular substrate for “benign” cognitive deterioration in “normal” brain aging.

JTD Keywords: (phospho)proteomics, alzheimer's disease, amyloid-beta, association guidelines, brain aging, cytoskeleton, frontal-cortex, kinases, lipid rafts, membranes, national institute, neuropathologic assessment, pathological process, protein phosphorylation, synapse pathology, synapses, tau, tau pathology, (phospho)proteomics, Age-related tauopathy, Alzheimer's disease, Brain aging, Cytoskeleton, Kinases, Membranes, Protein phosphorylation, Synapses, Tau


Mendoza, MB, Gutierrez, S, Ortiz, R, Moreno, DF, Dermit, M, Dodel, M, Rebollo, E, Bosch, M, Mardakheh, FK, Gallego, C, (2021). The elongation factor eEF1A2 controls translation and actin dynamics in dendritic spines Science Signaling 14, eabf5594

Synaptic plasticity involves structural modifications in dendritic spines that are modulated by local protein synthesis and actin remodeling. Here, we investigated the molecular mechanisms that connect synaptic stimulation to these processes. We found that the phosphorylation of isoform-specific sites in eEF1A2-an essential translation elongation factor in neurons-is a key modulator of structural plasticity in dendritic spines. Expression of a nonphosphorylatable eEF1A2 mutant stimulated mRNA translation but reduced actin dynamics and spine density. By contrast, a phosphomimetic eEF1A2 mutant exhibited decreased association with F-actin and was inactive as a translation elongation factor. Activation of metabotropic glutamate receptor signaling triggered transient dissociation of eEF1A2 from its regulatory guanine exchange factor (GEF) protein in dendritic spines in a phosphorylation-dependent manner. We propose that eEF1A2 establishes a cross-talk mechanism that coordinates translation and actin dynamics during spine remodeling.

JTD Keywords: cytoskeleton, expression, f-actin, factor 1-alpha, factor 1a, messenger-rna, nucleotide exchange, protein-synthesis, synaptic plasticity, Aminoacyl-transfer-rna


Andreu, I, Falcones, B, Hurst, S, Chahare, N, Quiroga, X, Le Roux, AL, Kechagia, Z, Beedle, AEM, Elosegui-Artola, A, Trepat, X, Farre, R, Betz, T, Almendros, I, Roca-Cusachs, P, (2021). The force loading rate drives cell mechanosensing through both reinforcement and cytoskeletal softening Nature Communications 12, 4229

Cell response to force regulates essential processes in health and disease. However, the fundamental mechanical variables that cells sense and respond to remain unclear. Here we show that the rate of force application (loading rate) drives mechanosensing, as predicted by a molecular clutch model. By applying dynamic force regimes to cells through substrate stretching, optical tweezers, and atomic force microscopy, we find that increasing loading rates trigger talin-dependent mechanosensing, leading to adhesion growth and reinforcement, and YAP nuclear localization. However, above a given threshold the actin cytoskeleton softens, decreasing loading rates and preventing reinforcement. By stretching rat lungs in vivo, we show that a similar phenomenon may occur. Our results show that cell sensing of external forces and of passive mechanical parameters (like tissue stiffness) can be understood through the same mechanisms, driven by the properties under force of the mechanosensing molecules involved. Cells sense mechanical forces from their environment, but the precise mechanical variable sensed by cells is unclear. Here, the authors show that cells can sense the rate of force application, known as the loading rate, with effects on YAP nuclear localization and cytoskeletal stiffness remodelling.

JTD Keywords: Actin cytoskeleton, Actin filament, Actin-filament, Adhesion, Animal, Animals, Atomic force microscopy, Breathing, Cell, Cell adhesion, Cell culture, Cell nucleus, Cells, cultured, Cytoplasm, Extracellular-matrix, Fibroblast, Fibroblasts, Fibronectin, Frequency, Gene knockdown, Gene knockdown techniques, Genetics, Germfree animal, Integrin, Intracellular signaling peptides and proteins, Knockout mouse, Lung, Male, Mechanotransduction, Mechanotransduction, cellular, Metabolism, Mice, Mice, knockout, Microscopy, atomic force, Mouse, Optical tweezers, Paxillin, Physiology, Primary cell culture, Pxn protein, mouse, Rat, Rats, Rats, sprague-dawley, Respiration, Signal peptide, Softening, Specific pathogen-free organisms, Sprague dawley rat, Stress, Substrate, Substrate rigidity, Talin, Talin protein, mouse, Tln2 protein, mouse, Traction, Transmission, Ultrastructure, Yap1 protein, rat


Kuipers, Arthur J., Middelbeek, Jeroen, Vrenken, Kirsten, Pérez-González, Carlos, Poelmans, Geert, Klarenbeek, Jeffrey, Jalink, Kees, Trepat, Xavier, van Leeuwen, Frank N., (2018). TRPM7 controls mesenchymal features of breast cancer cells by tensional regulation of SOX4 Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Molecular Basis of Disease 1864, (7), 2409-2419

Mechanically induced signaling pathways are important drivers of tumor progression. However, if and how mechanical signals affect metastasis or therapy response remains poorly understood. We previously found that the channel-kinase TRPM7, a regulator of cellular tension implicated in mechano-sensory processes, is required for breast cancer metastasis in vitro and in vivo. Here, we show that TRPM7 contributes to maintaining a mesenchymal phenotype in breast cancer cells by tensional regulation of the EMT transcription factor SOX4. The functional consequences of SOX4 knockdown closely mirror those produced by TRPM7 knockdown. By traction force measurements, we demonstrate that TRPM7 reduces cytoskeletal tension through inhibition of myosin II activity. Moreover, we show that SOX4 expression and downstream mesenchymal markers are inversely regulated by cytoskeletal tension and matrix rigidity. Overall, our results identify SOX4 as a transcription factor that is uniquely sensitive to cellular tension and indicate that TRPM7 may contribute to breast cancer progression by tensional regulation of SOX4.

JTD Keywords: TRPM7, SOX4, Epithelial-mesenchymal transition, Cytoskeleton, Mechanotransduction


Matalonga, J., Glaria, E., Bresque, M., Escande, C., Carbó, J. M., Kiefer, K., Vicente, R., León, T. E., Beceiro, S., Pascual-García, M., Serret, J., Sanjurjo, L., Morón-Ros, S., Riera, A., Paytubi, S., Juarez, A., Sotillo, F., Lindbom, L., Caelles, C., Sarrias, M. R., Sancho, J., Castrillo, A., Chini, E. N., Valledor, A. F., (2017). The nuclear receptor LXR limits bacterial infection of host macrophages through a mechanism that impacts cellular NAD metabolism Cell Reports 18, (5), 1241-1255

Macrophages exert potent effector functions against invading microorganisms but constitute, paradoxically, a preferential niche for many bacterial strains to replicate. Using a model of infection by Salmonella Typhimurium, we have identified a molecular mechanism regulated by the nuclear receptor LXR that limits infection of host macrophages through transcriptional activation of the multifunctional enzyme CD38. LXR agonists reduced the intracellular levels of NAD+ in a CD38-dependent manner, counteracting pathogen-induced changes in macrophage morphology and the distribution of the F-actin cytoskeleton and reducing the capability of non-opsonized Salmonella to infect macrophages. Remarkably, pharmacological treatment with an LXR agonist ameliorated clinical signs associated with Salmonella infection in vivo, and these effects were dependent on CD38 expression in bone-marrow-derived cells. Altogether, this work reveals an unappreciated role for CD38 in bacterial-host cell interaction that can be pharmacologically exploited by activation of the LXR pathway.

JTD Keywords: Bacterial infection, CD38, Cytoskeleton, LXR, Macrophage, NAD, Nuclear receptor


Barreto, S., Clausen, C. H., Perrault, C. M., Fletcher, D. A., Lacroix, D., (2013). A multi-structural single cell model of force-induced interactions of cytoskeletal components Biomaterials 34, (26), 6119-6126

Several computational models based on experimental techniques and theories have been proposed to describe cytoskeleton (CSK) mechanics. Tensegrity is a prominent model for force generation, but it cannot predict mechanics of individual CSK components, nor explain the discrepancies from the different single cell stimulating techniques studies combined with cytoskeleton-disruptors. A new numerical concept that defines a multi-structural 3D finite element (FE) model of a single-adherent cell is proposed to investigate the biophysical and biochemical differences of the mechanical role of each cytoskeleton component under loading. The model includes prestressed actin bundles and microtubule within cytoplasm and nucleus surrounded by the actin cortex. We performed numerical simulations of atomic force microscopy (AFM) experiments by subjecting the cell model to compressive loads. The numerical role of the CSK components was corroborated with AFM force measurements on U2OS-osteosarcoma cells and NIH-3T3 fibroblasts exposed to different cytoskeleton-disrupting drugs. Computational simulation showed that actin cortex and microtubules are the major components targeted in resisting compression. This is a new numerical tool that explains the specific role of the cortex and overcomes the difficulty of isolating this component from other networks invitro. This illustrates that a combination ofcytoskeletal structures with their own properties is necessary for a complete description of cellular mechanics.

JTD Keywords: Actin bundles, Actin cortex, AFM (atomic force microscopy), Cytoskeleton, Finite element modeling, Microtubules


Roca-Cusachs, P., Iskratsch, T., Sheetz, M. P., (2012). Finding the weakest link: exploring integrin-mediated mechanical molecular pathways Journal of Cell Science 125, (13), 3025-3038

From the extracellular matrix to the cytoskeleton, a network of molecular links connects cells to their environment. Molecules in this network transmit and detect mechanical forces, which subsequently determine cell behavior and fate. Here, we reconstruct the mechanical pathway followed by these forces. From matrix proteins to actin through integrins and adaptor proteins, we review how forces affect the lifetime of bonds and stretch or alter the conformation of proteins, and how these mechanical changes are converted into biochemical signals in mechanotransduction events. We evaluate which of the proteins in the network can participate in mechanotransduction and which are simply responsible for transmitting forces in a dynamic network. Besides their individual properties, we also analyze how the mechanical responses of a protein are determined by their serial connections from the matrix to actin, their parallel connections in integrin clusters and by the rate at which force is applied to them. All these define mechanical molecular pathways in cells, which are emerging as key regulators of cell function alongside better studied biochemical pathways.

JTD Keywords: Cell adhesion, Cytoskeleton, Mechanotransduction


Gauthier, Nils C., Fardin, Marc Antoine, Roca-Cusachs, Pere, Sheetz, Michael P., (2011). Temporary increase in plasma membrane tension coordinates the activation of exocytosis and contraction during cell spreading Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 108, (35), 14467-14472

Cell migration and spreading involve the coordination of membrane trafficking, actomyosin contraction, and modifications to plasma membrane tension and area. The biochemical or biophysical basis for this coordination is however unknown. In this study, we show that during cell spreading, lamellipodia protrusion flattens plasma membrane folds and blebs and, once the plasma membrane area is depleted, there is a temporary increase in membrane tension by over twofold that is followed by activation of exocytosis and myosin contraction. Further, an artificial increase in plasma membrane tension stopped lamellipodia protrusion and activated an exocytotic burst. Subsequent decrease in tension restored spreading with activation of contraction. Conversely, blebbistatin inhibition of actomyosin contraction resulted in an even greater increase in plasma membrane tension and exocytosis activation. This spatio-temporal synchronization indicates that membrane tension is the signal that coordinates membrane trafficking, actomyosin contraction, and plasma membrane area change. We suggest that cells use plasma membrane tension as a global physical parameter to control cell motility.

JTD Keywords: Surface-area regulation, Cytoskeleton adhesion, Erythrocyte-membrane, Extensional flow, Elastic tether, Force


Zhou, E. H., Trepat, X., Park, C. Y., Lenormand, G., Oliver, M. N., Mijailovich, S. M., Hardin, C., Weitz, D. A., Butler, J. P., Fredberg, J. J., (2009). Universal behavior of the osmotically compressed cell and its analogy to the colloidal glass transition Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 106, (26), 10632-10637

Mechanical robustness of the cell under different modes of stress and deformation is essential to its survival and function. Under tension, mechanical rigidity is provided by the cytoskeletal network; with increasing stress, this network stiffens, providing increased resistance to deformation. However, a cell must also resist compression, which will inevitably occur whenever cell volume is decreased during such biologically important processes as anhydrobiosis and apoptosis. Under compression, individual filaments can buckle, thereby reducing the stiffness and weakening the cytoskeletal network. However, the intracellular space is crowded with macromolecules and organelles that can resist compression. A simple picture describing their behavior is that of colloidal particles; colloids exhibit a sharp increase in viscosity with increasing volume fraction, ultimately undergoing a glass transition and becoming a solid. We investigate the consequences of these 2 competing effects and show that as a cell is compressed by hyperosmotic stress it becomes progressively more rigid. Although this stiffening behavior depends somewhat on cell type, starting conditions, molecular motors, and cytoskeletal contributions, its dependence on solid volume fraction is exponential in every instance. This universal behavior suggests that compression-induced weakening of the network is overwhelmed by crowding-induced stiffening of the cytoplasm. We also show that compression dramatically slows intracellular relaxation processes. The increase in stiffness, combined with the slowing of relaxation processes, is reminiscent of a glass transition of colloidal suspensions, but only when comprised of deformable particles. Our work provides a means to probe the physical nature of the cytoplasm under compression, and leads to results that are universal across cell type.

JTD Keywords: Compression, Cytoplasm, Cytoskeleton, Mechanotransduction, Stiffness


Sunyer, R., Trepat, X., Fredberg, J. J., Farre, R., Navajas, D., (2009). The temperature dependence of cell mechanics measured by atomic force microscopy Physical Biology 6, (2), 25009

The cytoskeleton is a complex polymer network that regulates the structural stability of living cells. Although the cytoskeleton plays a key role in many important cell functions, the mechanisms that regulate its mechanical behaviour are poorly understood. Potential mechanisms include the entropic elasticity of cytoskeletal filaments, glassy-like inelastic rearrangements of cross-linking proteins and the activity of contractile molecular motors that sets the tensional stress (prestress) borne by the cytoskeleton filaments. The contribution of these mechanisms can be assessed by studying how cell mechanics depends on temperature. The aim of this work was to elucidate the effect of temperature on cell mechanics using atomic force microscopy. We measured the complex shear modulus (G*) of human alveolar epithelial cells over a wide frequency range (0.1-25.6 Hz) at different temperatures (13-37 degrees C). In addition, we probed cell prestress by mapping the contractile forces that cells exert on the substrate by means of traction microscopy. To assess the role of actomyosin contraction in the temperature-induced changes in G* and cell prestress, we inhibited the Rho kinase pathway of the myosin light chain phosphorylation with Y-27632. Our results show that with increasing temperature, cells become stiffer and more solid-like. Cell prestress also increases with temperature. Inhibiting actomyosin contraction attenuated the temperature dependence of G* and prestress. We conclude that the dependence of cell mechanics with temperature is dominated by the contractile activity of molecular motors.

JTD Keywords: Membrane Stress Failure, Frog Skeletal-Muscle, Extracellular-Matrix, Glass-Transition, Energy Landscape, Actin-Filaments, Living Cell, Single, Traction, Cytoskeleton


Puig, F., Gavara, N., Sunyer, R., Carreras, A., Farre, R., Navajas, D., (2009). Stiffening and contraction induced by dexamethasone in alveolar epithelial cells Experimental Mechanics , 49, (1), 47-55

The structural integrity of the alveolar monolayer, which is compromised during lung inflammation, is determined by the balance between cell-cell and cell-matrix tethering forces and the centripetal forces owing to cell viscoelasticity and contraction. Dexamethasone is an anti-inflammatory glucocorticoid with protective effects in lung injury. To determine the effects of Dexamethasone on the stiffness and contractility of alveolar epithelial cells. Cell stiffness (G') and average traction exerted by the cell (T) were measured by magnetic twisting cytometry and by traction microscopy, respectively. A549 cells were treated 24 h with Dexamethasone (1 mu M) or vehicle (control). G' and T were measured before and 5 min after challenge with the inflammatory mediator Thrombin (0.5 U/ml). Changes induced by Dexamethasone in actin cytoskeleton polymerization were assessed by the fluorescent ratio between F-actin and G-actin obtained by staining cells with phalloidin and DNase I. Dexamethasone significantly increased G' and T by 56% (n = 11; p < 0.01) and by 80% (n = 17; p < 0.05), respectively. Dexamethasone also increased F/G-actin ratio from 2.68 +/- 0.07 to 2.96 +/- 0.09 (n = 10; p < 0.05). The relative increase in stiffness and contraction induced by Thrombin in control cells was significantly (p < 0.05) reduced by Dexamethasone treatment: from 190 to 98% in G' and from 318 to 105% in T. The cytoskeleton remodelling and the increase in cell stiffness and contraction induced by Dexamethasone could account for its protective effect in the alveolar epithelium when subjected to inflammatory challenge.

JTD Keywords: Cell mechanics, Cytoskeleton, Magnetic twisting cytometry, Traction microscopy, Respiratory diseases


Gavara, N., Roca-Cusachs, P., Sunyer, R., Farre, R., Navajas, D., (2008). Mapping cell-matrix stresses during stretch reveals inelastic reorganization of the cytoskeleton Biophysical Journal , 95, (1), 464-471

The mechanical properties of the living cell are intimately related to cell signaling biology through cytoskeletal tension. The tension borne by the cytoskeleton (CSK) is in part generated internally by the actomyosin machinery and externally by stretch. Here we studied how cytoskeletal tension is modified during stretch and the tensional changes undergone by the sites of cell-matrix interaction. To this end we developed a novel technique to map cell-matrix stresses during application of stretch. We found that cell-matrix stresses increased with imposition of stretch but dropped below baseline levels on stretch release. Inhibition of the actomyosin machinery resulted in a larger relative increase in CSK tension with stretch and in a smaller drop in tension after stretch release. Cell-matrix stress maps showed that the loci of cell adhesion initially bearing greater stress also exhibited larger drops in traction forces after stretch removal. Our results suggest that stretch partially disrupts the actin-myosin apparatus and the cytoskeletal structures that support the largest CSK tension. These findings indicate that cells use the mechanical energy injected by stretch to rapidly reorganize their structure and redistribute tension.

JTD Keywords: Cell Line, Computer Simulation, Cytoskeleton/ physiology, Elasticity, Epithelial Cells/ physiology, Extracellular Matrix/ physiology, Humans, Mechanotransduction, Cellular/ physiology, Models, Biological, Stress, Mechanical