Microtubule-Based Control of Motor-Clutch System Mechanics in Glioma Cell Migration.
ABSTRACT: Microtubule-targeting agents (MTAs) are widely used chemotherapy drugs capable of disrupting microtubule-dependent cellular functions, such as division and migration. We show that two clinically approved MTAs, paclitaxel and vinblastine, each suppress stiffness-sensitive migration and polarization characteristic of human glioma cells on compliant hydrogels. MTAs influence microtubule dynamics and cell traction forces by nearly opposite mechanisms, the latter of which can be explained by a combination of changes in myosin motor and adhesion clutch number. Our results support a microtubule-dependent signaling-based model for controlling traction forces through a motor-clutch mechanism, rather than microtubules directly relieving tension within F-actin and adhesions. Computational simulations of cell migration suggest that increasing protrusion number also impairs stiffness-sensitive migration, consistent with experimental MTA effects. These results provide a theoretical basis for the role of microtubules and mechanisms of MTAs in controlling cell migration.
Project description:Microenvironmental mechanics play an important role in determining the morphology, traction, migration, proliferation, and differentiation of cells. A stochastic motor-clutch model has been proposed to describe this stiffness sensitivity. In this work, we present a master equation-based ordinary differential equation (ODE) description of the motor-clutch model, from which we derive an analytical expression to for a cell's optimum stiffness (i.e. the stiffness at which the traction force is maximal). This analytical expression provides insight into the requirements for stiffness sensing by establishing fundamental relationships between the key controlling cell-specific parameters. We find that the fundamental controlling parameters are the numbers of motors and clutches (constrained to be nearly equal), and the time scale of the on-off kinetics of the clutches (constrained to favor clutch binding over clutch unbinding). Both the ODE solution and the analytical expression show good agreement with Monte Carlo motor-clutch output, and reduce computation time by several orders of magnitude, which potentially enables long time scale behaviors (hours-days) to be studied computationally in an efficient manner. The ODE solution and the analytical expression may be incorporated into larger scale models of cellular behavior to bridge the gap from molecular time scales to cellular and tissue time scales.
Project description:The mechanical stiffness of a cell's environment exerts a strong, but variable, influence on cell behavior and fate. For example, different cell types cultured on compliant substrates have opposite trends of cell migration and traction as a function of substrate stiffness. Here, we describe how a motor-clutch model of cell traction, which exhibits a maximum in traction force with respect to substrate stiffness, may provide a mechanistic basis for understanding how cells are tuned to sense the stiffness of specific microenvironments. We find that the optimal stiffness is generally more sensitive to clutch parameters than to motor parameters, but that single parameter changes are generally only effective over a small range of values. By contrast, dual parameter changes, such as coordinately increasing the numbers of both motors and clutches offer a larger dynamic range for tuning the optimum. The model exhibits distinct regimes: at high substrate stiffness, clutches quickly build force and fail (so-called frictional slippage), whereas at low substrate stiffness, clutches fail spontaneously before the motors can load the substrate appreciably (a second regime of frictional slippage). Between the two extremes, we find the maximum traction force, which occurs when the substrate load-and-fail cycle time equals the expected time for all clutches to bind. At this stiffness, clutches are used to their fullest extent, and motors are therefore resisted to their fullest extent. The analysis suggests that coordinate parameter shifts, such as increasing the numbers of motors and clutches, could underlie tumor progression and collective cell migration.
Project description:Methyl-β-cyclodextrin (MCD), an established pharmacological excipient, depolymerizes the actin cytoskeleton. In this work, we investigated the effect of MCD-mediated actin depolymerization on various cellular phenotypes including traction force, cell stiffness, focal adhesions, and intracellular drug accumulation. In addition to a reduction in the contractile cellular traction, MCD acutely inhibits the maturation of focal adhesions. Alteration of contractile forces and focal adhesions affects the trypsin-mediated detachment kinetics of cells. Moreover, MCD-mediated actin depolymerization increases the intracellular accumulation of microtubule-targeting agents (MTAs) by ~50% with respect to the untreated cells. As MCD treatment enhances the intracellular concentration of drugs, we hypothesized that the MCD-sensitized cancer cells could be effectively killed by low doses of MTAs. Our results in cervical, breast, hepatocellular, prostate cancer and multidrug-resistant breast cancer cells confirmed the above hypothesis. Further, the combined use of MCD and MTAs synergistically inhibits the proliferation of tumor cells. These results indicate the potential use of MCD in combination with MTAs for cancer chemotherapy and suggest that targeting both actin and microtubules simultaneously may be useful for cancer therapy. Importantly, the results provide significant insight into the crosstalk between actin and microtubules in regulating the traction force and dynamics of cell deadhesion.
Project description:The lissencephaly protein Lis1 has been reported to regulate the mechanical behavior of cytoplasmic dynein, the primary minus-end-directed microtubule motor. However, the regulatory mechanism remains poorly understood. Here, we address this issue using purified proteins from Saccharomyces cerevisiae and a combination of techniques, including single-molecule imaging and single-particle electron microscopy. We show that rather than binding to the main ATPase site within dynein's AAA+ ring or its microtubule-binding stalk directly, Lis1 engages the interface between these elements. Lis1 causes individual dynein motors to remain attached to microtubules for extended periods, even during cycles of ATP hydrolysis that would canonically induce detachment. Thus, Lis1 operates like a "clutch" that prevents dynein's ATPase domain from transmitting a detachment signal to its track-binding domain. We discuss how these findings provide a conserved mechanism for dynein functions in living cells that require prolonged microtubule attachments.
Project description:The ability of cells to impart forces and deformations on their surroundings underlies cell migration and extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling and is thus an essential aspect of complex, metazoan life. Previous work has resulted in a refined understanding, commonly termed the molecular clutch model, of how cells adhering to flat surfaces such as a microscope coverslip transmit cytoskeletally generated forces to their surroundings. Comparatively less is known about how cells adhere to and exert forces in soft, three-dimensional (3D), and structurally heterogeneous ECM environments such as occur in vivo. We used time-lapse 3D imaging and quantitative image analysis to determine how the actin cytoskeleton is mechanically coupled to the surrounding matrix for primary dermal fibroblasts embedded in a 3D fibrin matrix. Under these circumstances, the cytoskeletal architecture is dominated by contractile actin bundles attached at their ends to large, stable, integrin-based adhesions. Time-lapse imaging reveals that ?-actinin-1 puncta within actomyosin bundles move more quickly than the paxillin-rich adhesion plaques, which in turn move more quickly than the local matrix, an observation reminiscent of the molecular clutch model. However, closer examination did not reveal a continuous rearward flow of the actin cytoskeleton over slower moving adhesions. Instead, we found that a subset of stress fibers continuously elongated at their attachment points to integrin adhesions, providing stable, yet structurally dynamic coupling to the ECM. Analytical modeling and numerical simulation provide a plausible physical explanation for this result and support a picture in which cells respond to the effective stiffness of local matrix attachment points. The resulting dynamic equilibrium can explain how cells maintain stable, contractile connections to discrete points within ECM during cell migration, and provides a plausible means by which fibroblasts contract provisional matrices during wound healing.
Project description:The paradigm that microtubule-targeting agents (MTAs) cause cell death via mitotic arrest applies to rapidly dividing cells but cannot explain MTA activity in slowly growing human cancers. Many preferred cancer regimens combine a MTA with a DNA-damaging agent (DDA). We hypothesized that MTAs synergize with DDAs by interfering with trafficking of DNA repair proteins on interphase microtubules. We investigated nine proteins involved in DNA repair: ATM, ATR, DNA-PK, Rad50, Mre11, p95/NBS1, p53, 53BP1, and p63. The proteins were sequestered in the cytoplasm by vincristine and paclitaxel but not by an aurora kinase inhibitor, colocalized with tubulin by confocal microscopy and coimmunoprecipitated with the microtubule motor dynein. Furthermore, adding MTAs to radiation, doxorubicin, or etoposide led to more sustained ?-H2AX levels. We conclude DNA damage-repair proteins traffic on microtubules and addition of MTAs sequesters them in the cytoplasm, explaining why MTA/DDA combinations are common anticancer regimens.
Project description:Microtubules--which define the shape of axons, cilia and flagella, and provide tracks for intracellular transport--can be highly bent by intracellular forces, and microtubule structure and stiffness are thought to be affected by physical constraints. Yet how microtubules tolerate the vast forces exerted on them remains unknown. Here, by using a microfluidic device, we show that microtubule stiffness decreases incrementally with each cycle of bending and release. Similar to other cases of material fatigue, the concentration of mechanical stresses on pre-existing defects in the microtubule lattice is responsible for the generation of more extensive damage, which further decreases microtubule stiffness. Strikingly, damaged microtubules were able to incorporate new tubulin dimers into their lattice and recover their initial stiffness. Our findings demonstrate that microtubules are ductile materials with self-healing properties, that their dynamics does not exclusively occur at their ends, and that their lattice plasticity enables the microtubules' adaptation to mechanical stresses.
Project description:Biological tissues contain micrometer-scale gaps and pores, including those found within extracellular matrix fiber networks, between tightly packed cells, and between blood vessels or nerve bundles and their associated basement membranes. These spaces restrict cell motion to a single-spatial dimension (1D), a feature that is not captured in traditional in vitro cell migration assays performed on flat, unconfined two-dimensional (2D) substrates. Mechanical confinement can variably influence cell migration behaviors, and it is presently unclear whether the mechanisms used for migration in 2D unconfined environments are relevant in 1D confined environments. Here, we assessed whether a cell migration simulator and associated parameters previously measured for cells on 2D unconfined compliant hydrogels could predict 1D confined cell migration in microfluidic channels. We manufactured microfluidic devices with narrow channels (60-?m2 rectangular cross-sectional area) and tracked human glioma cells that spontaneously migrated within channels. Cell velocities (vexp = 0.51 ± 0.02 ?m min-1) were comparable to brain tumor expansion rates measured in the clinic. Using motor-clutch model parameters estimated from cells on unconfined 2D planar hydrogel substrates, simulations predicted similar migration velocities (vsim = 0.37 ± 0.04 ?m min-1) and also predicted the effects of drugs targeting the motor-clutch system or cytoskeletal assembly. These results are consistent with glioma cells utilizing a motor-clutch system to migrate in confined environments.
Project description:Cell-crawling migration plays an essential role in complex biological phenomena. It is now generally believed that many processes essential to such migration are regulated by microtubules in many cells, including fibroblasts and neurons. However, keratocytes treated with nocodazole, which is an inhibitor of microtubule polymerization - and even keratocyte fragments that contain no microtubules - migrate at the same velocity and with the same directionality as normal keratocytes. In this study, we discovered that not only these migration properties, but also the molecular dynamics that regulate such properties, such as the retrograde flow rate of actin filaments, distributions of vinculin and myosin II, and traction forces, are also the same in nocodazole-treated keratocytes as those in untreated keratocytes. These results suggest that microtubules are not in fact required for crawling migration of keratocytes, either in terms of migrating properties or of intracellular molecular dynamics.
Project description:The migration of chromosomes during mitosis is mediated primarily by kinesins that bind to the chromosomes and move along the microtubules, exerting pulling and pushing forces on the centrosomes. We report that a DNA replication protein, Sld5, localizes to the centrosomes, resisting the microtubular pulling forces experienced during chromosome congression. In the absence of Sld5, centriolar satellites, which normally cluster around the centrosomes, are dissipated throughout the cytoplasm, resulting in the loss of their known function of recruiting the centrosomal protein, pericentrin. We observed that Sld5-deficient centrosomes lacking pericentrin were unable to endure the CENP-E- and Kid-mediated microtubular forces that converge on the centrosomes during chromosome congression, resulting in monocentriolar and acentriolar spindle poles. The minus-end-directed kinesin-14 motor protein, HSET, sustains the traction forces that mediate centrosomal fragmentation in Sld5-depleted cells. Thus, we report that a DNA replication protein has an as yet unknown function of ensuring spindle pole resistance to traction forces exerted during chromosome congression.