Spatial distribution of cell-cell and cell-ECM adhesions regulates force balance while main-taining E-cadherin molecular tension in cell pairs.
ABSTRACT: Mechanical linkage between cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix (ECM) adhesions regulates cell shape changes during embryonic development and tissue homoeostasis. We examined how the force balance between cell-cell and cell-ECM adhesions changes with cell spread area and aspect ratio in pairs of MDCK cells. We used ECM micropatterning to drive different cytoskeleton strain energy states and cell-generated traction forces and used a Förster resonance energy transfer tension biosensor to ask whether changes in forces across cell-cell junctions correlated with E-cadherin molecular tension. We found that continuous peripheral ECM adhesions resulted in increased cell-cell and cell-ECM forces with increasing spread area. In contrast, confining ECM adhesions to the distal ends of cell-cell pairs resulted in shorter junction lengths and constant cell-cell forces. Of interest, each cell within a cell pair generated higher strain energies than isolated single cells of the same spread area. Surprisingly, E-cadherin molecular tension remained constant regardless of changes in cell-cell forces and was evenly distributed along cell-cell junctions independent of cell spread area and total traction forces. Taken together, our results showed that cell pairs maintained constant E-cadherin molecular tension and regulated total forces relative to cell spread area and shape but independently of total focal adhesion area.
Project description:Cells in tissues are mechanically coupled both to the ECM and neighboring cells, but the coordination and interdependency of forces sustained at cell-ECM and cell-cell adhesions are unknown. In this paper, we demonstrate that the endogenous force sustained at the cell-cell contact between a pair of epithelial cells is approximately 100 nN, directed perpendicular to the cell-cell interface and concentrated at the contact edges. This force is stably maintained over time despite significant fluctuations in cell-cell contact length and cell morphology. A direct relationship between the total cellular traction force on the ECM and the endogenous cell-cell force exists, indicating that the cell-cell tension is a constant fraction of the cell-ECM traction. Thus, modulation of ECM properties that impact cell-ECM traction alters cell-cell tension. Finally, we show in a minimal model of a tissue that all cells experience similar forces from the surrounding microenvironment, despite differences in the extent of cell-ECM and cell-cell adhesion. This interdependence of cell-cell and cell-ECM forces has significant implications for the maintenance of the mechanical integrity of tissues, mechanotransduction, and tumor mechanobiology.
Project description:Cell-cell and cell-matrix adhesions play essential roles in the function of tissues. There is growing evidence for the importance of cross talk between these two adhesion types, yet little is known about the impact of these interactions on the mechanical coupling of cells to the extracellular matrix (ECM). Here, we combine experiment and theory to reveal how intercellular adhesions modulate forces transmitted to the ECM. In the absence of cadherin-based adhesions, primary mouse keratinocytes within a colony appear to act independently, with significant traction forces extending throughout the colony. In contrast, with strong cadherin-based adhesions, keratinocytes in a cohesive colony localize traction forces to the colony periphery. Through genetic or antibody-mediated loss of cadherin expression or function, we show that cadherin-based adhesions are essential for this mechanical cooperativity. A minimal physical model in which cell-cell adhesions modulate the physical cohesion between contractile cells is sufficient to recreate the spatial rearrangement of traction forces observed experimentally with varying strength of cadherin-based adhesions. This work defines the importance of cadherin-based cell-cell adhesions in coordinating mechanical activity of epithelial cells and has implications for the mechanical regulation of epithelial tissues during development, homeostasis, and disease.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The spatiotemporal regulation of adhesion to the extracellular matrix is important in metazoan cell migration and mechanosensation. Although adhesion assembly depends on intracellular and extracellular tension, the biophysical regulation of force transmission between the actin cytoskeleton and extracellular matrix during this process remains largely unknown. RESULTS:To elucidate the nature of force transmission as myosin II tension is applied to focal adhesions, we correlated the dynamics of focal adhesion proteins and the actin cytoskeleton to local traction stresses. Under low extracellular tension, newly formed adhesions near the cell periphery underwent a transient retrograde displacement preceding elongation. We found that myosin II-generated tension drives this mobility, and we determine the interface of differential motion, or "slip," to be between integrin and the ECM. The magnitude and duration of both adhesion slip and associated F-actin dynamics is strongly modulated by ECM compliance. Traction forces are generated throughout the slip period, and adhesion immobilization occurs at a constant tension. CONCLUSIONS:We have identified a tension-dependent, extracellular "clutch" between integrins and the extracellular matrix; this clutch stabilizes adhesions under myosin II driven tension. The current work elucidates a mechanism by which force transmission is modulated during focal adhesion maturation.
Project description:Cell-to-cell adhesions are crucial in maintaining the structural and functional integrity of cardiac cells. Little is known about the mechanosensitivity and mechanotransduction of cell-to-cell interactions. Most studies of cardiac mechanotransduction and myofibrillogenesis have focused on cell-extracellular matrix (ECM)-specific interactions. This study assesses the direct role of intercellular adhesion, specifically that of N-cadherin-mediated mechanotransduction, on the morphology and internal organization of neonatal ventricular cardiac myocytes. The results show that cadherin-mediated cell attachments are capable of eliciting a cytoskeletal network response similar to that of integrin-mediated force response and transmission, affecting myofibrillar organization, myocyte shape, and cortical stiffness. Traction forces mediated by N-cadherin were shown to be comparable to those sustained by ECM. The directional changes in predicted traction forces as a function of imposed loads (gel stiffness) provide the added evidence that N-cadherin is a mechanoresponsive adhesion receptor. Strikingly, the mechanical sensitivity response (gain) in terms of the measured cell-spread area as a function of imposed load (adhesive substrate rigidity) was consistently higher for N-cadherin-coated surfaces compared with ECM protein-coated surfaces. In addition, the cytoskeletal architecture of myocytes on an N-cadherin adhesive microenvironment was characteristically different from that on an ECM environment, suggesting that the two mechanotransductive cell adhesion systems may play both independent and complementary roles in myocyte cytoskeletal spatial organization. These results indicate that cell-to-cell-mediated force perception and transmission are involved in the organization and development of cardiac structure and function.
Project description:Mechanical cues can influence the manner in which cells generate traction forces and form focal adhesions. The stiffness of a cell's substrate and the available area on which it can spread can influence its generation of traction forces, but to what extent these factors are intertwined is unclear. In this study, we used microcontact printing and micropost arrays to control cell spreading, substrate stiffness, and post density to assess their effect on traction forces and focal adhesions. We find that both the spread area and the substrate stiffness influence traction forces in an independent manner, but these factors have opposite effects: cells on stiffer substrates produce higher average forces, whereas cells with larger spread areas generate lower average forces. We show that post density influences the generation of traction forces in a manner that is more dominant than the effect of spread area. Additionally, we observe that focal adhesions respond to spread area, substrate stiffness, and post density in a manner that closely matches the trends seen for traction forces. This work supports the notion that traction forces and focal adhesions have a close relationship in their response to mechanical cues.
Project description:Focal adhesions (FAs) are the predominant mechanism by which cells mechanically couple to and exert traction forces on their extracellular matrix (ECM). It is widely presumed that FA size is modulated by force to mediate changes in adhesion strength at different levels of cellular tension. However, previous studies seeking correlations between force and FA morphology have yielded variable and often conflicting results. Here we show that a strong correlation between adhesion size and traction force exists only during the initial stages of myosin-mediated adhesion maturation and growth. For mature adhesions, no correlation between traction stress and size is observed. Rather, the tension that is sustained at mature adhesions is more strongly influenced by proximity to the cell edge, with peripheral adhesions transmitting higher tension than adhesions near the cell center. Finally, we show that mature adhesions can withstand sixfold increases in tension without changes in size. Thus, although a strong correlation between adhesion size and mechanical tension is observed during the initial stages of myosin-mediated adhesion maturation, no correlation is observed in mature, elongated adhesions. This work places spatiotemporal constraints on the force-dependent growth of adhesions and provides insight into the mechanical regulation of cell-ECM adhesion.
Project description:Integrin-based focal adhesions (FA) transmit anchorage and traction forces between the cell and the extracellular matrix (ECM). To gain further insight into the physical parameters of the ECM that control FA assembly and force transduction in non-migrating cells, we used fibronectin (FN) nanopatterning within a cell adhesion-resistant background to establish the threshold area of ECM ligand required for stable FA assembly and force transduction. Integrin-FN clustering and adhesive force were strongly modulated by the geometry of the nanoscale adhesive area. Individual nanoisland area, not the number of nanoislands or total adhesive area, controlled integrin-FN clustering and adhesion strength. Importantly, below an area threshold (0.11 µm(2)), very few integrin-FN clusters and negligible adhesive forces were generated. We then asked whether this adhesive area threshold could be modulated by intracellular pathways known to influence either adhesive force, cytoskeletal tension, or the structural link between the two. Expression of talin- or vinculin-head domains that increase integrin activation or clustering overcame this nanolimit for stable integrin-FN clustering and increased adhesive force. Inhibition of myosin contractility in cells expressing a vinculin mutant that enhances cytoskeleton-integrin coupling also restored integrin-FN clustering below the nanolimit. We conclude that the minimum area of integrin-FN clusters required for stable assembly of nanoscale FA and adhesive force transduction is not a constant; rather it has a dynamic threshold that results from an equilibrium between pathways controlling adhesive force, cytoskeletal tension, and the structural linkage that transmits these forces, allowing the balance to be tipped by factors that regulate these mechanical parameters.
Project description:Collective cell movements are integral to biological processes such as embryonic development and wound healing and also have a prominent role in some metastatic cancers. In migrating Xenopus mesendoderm, traction forces are generated by cells through integrin-based adhesions and tension transmitted across cadherin adhesions. This is accompanied by assembly of a mechanoresponsive cadherin adhesion complex containing keratin intermediate filaments and the catenin-family member plakoglobin. We demonstrate that focal adhesion kinase (FAK), a major component of integrin adhesion complexes, is required for normal morphogenesis at gastrulation, closure of the anterior neural tube, axial elongation and somitogenesis. Depletion of zygotically expressed FAK results in disruption of mesendoderm tissue polarity similar to that observed when expression of keratin or plakoglobin is inhibited. Both individual and collective migrations of mesendoderm cells from FAK depleted embryos are slowed, cell protrusions are disordered, and cell spreading and traction forces are decreased. Additionally, keratin filaments fail to organize at the rear of cells in the tissue and association of plakoglobin with cadherin is diminished. These findings suggest that FAK is required for the tension-dependent assembly of the cadherin adhesion complex that guides collective mesendoderm migration, perhaps by modulating the dynamic balance of substrate traction forces and cell cohesion needed to establish cell polarity.
Project description:Collective cell migration requires maintenance of adhesive contacts between adjacent cells, coordination of polarized cell protrusions, and generation of propulsive traction forces. We demonstrate that mechanical force applied locally to C-cadherins on single Xenopus mesendoderm cells is sufficient to induce polarized cell protrusion and persistent migration typical of individual cells within a collectively migrating tissue. Local tension on cadherin adhesions induces reorganization of the keratin intermediate filament network toward these stressed sites. Plakoglobin, a member of the catenin family, is localized to cadherin adhesions under tension and is required for both mechanoresponsive cell behavior and assembly of the keratin cytoskeleton at the rear of these cells. Local tugging forces on cadherins occur in vivo through interactions with neighboring cells, and these forces result in coordinate changes in cell protrusive behavior. Thus, cadherin-dependent force-inducible regulation of cell polarity in single mesendoderm cells represents an emergent property of the intact tissue.
Project description:Contact inhibition of locomotion is defined as the behavior of cells to cease migrating in their former direction after colliding with another cell. It has been implicated in multiple developmental processes and its absence has been linked to cancer invasion. Cellular forces are thought to govern this process; however, the exact role of traction through cell-matrix adhesions and tension through cell-cell adhesions during contact inhibition of locomotion remains unknown. Here we use neural crest cells to address this and show that cell-matrix adhesions are rapidly disassembled at the contact between two cells upon collision. This disassembly is dependent upon the formation of N-cadherin-based cell-cell adhesions and driven by Src and FAK activity. We demonstrate that the loss of cell-matrix adhesions near the contact leads to a buildup of tension across the cell-cell contact, a step that is essential to drive cell-cell separation after collision.