Varying crosslinking motifs drive the mesoscale mechanics of actin-microtubule composites.
ABSTRACT: The cytoskeleton precisely tunes its mechanics by altering interactions between semiflexible actin filaments, rigid microtubules, and crosslinking proteins. We use optical tweezers microrheology and confocal microscopy to characterize how varying crosslinking motifs impact the mesoscale mechanics and mobility of actin-microtubule composites. We show that, upon subtle changes in crosslinking patterns, composites can exhibit two distinct classes of force response - primarily elastic versus more viscous. For example, a composite in which actin and microtubules are crosslinked to each other but not to themselves is markedly more elastic than one in which both filaments are independently crosslinked. Notably, this distinction only emerges at mesoscopic scales in response to nonlinear forcing, whereas varying crosslinking motifs have little impact on the microscale mechanics and mobility. Our unexpected scale-dependent results not only inform the physics underlying key cytoskeleton processes and structures, but, more generally, provide valuable perspective to materials engineering endeavors focused on polymer composites.
Project description:Cytoskeletal crowding plays a key role in the diffusion of DNA molecules through the cell, acting as a barrier to effective intracellular transport and conformational stability required for processes such as transfection, viral infection, and gene therapy. Here, we elucidate the transport properties and conformational dynamics of linear and ring DNA molecules diffusing through entangled and crosslinked composite networks of actin and microtubules. We couple single-molecule conformational tracking with differential dynamic microscopy to reveal that ring and linear DNA exhibit unexpectedly distinct transport properties that are influenced differently by cytoskeleton crosslinking. Ring DNA coils are swollen and undergo heterogeneous and biphasic subdiffusion that is hindered by crosslinking. Conversely, crosslinking actually facilitates the single-mode subdiffusion that compacted linear chains exhibit. Our collective results demonstrate that transient threading by cytoskeleton filaments plays a key role in the dynamics of ring DNA, whereas the mobility of the cytoskeleton dictates transport of linear DNA.
Project description:We use optical tweezers microrheology and fluorescence microscopy to characterize the nonlinear mesoscale mechanics and mobility of in vitro co-entangled actin-microtubule composites. We create a suite of randomly oriented, well-mixed networks of actin and microtubules by co-polymerizing varying ratios of actin and tubulin in situ. To perturb each composite far from equilibrium, we use optical tweezers to displace an embedded microsphere a distance greater than the lengths of the filaments at a speed much faster than their intrinsic relaxation rates. We simultaneously measure the force the filaments exert on the bead and the subsequent force relaxation. We find that the presence of a large fraction of microtubules (>0.7) is needed to substantially increase the measured force, which is accompanied by large heterogeneities in force response. Actin minimizes these heterogeneities by reducing the mesh size of the composites and supporting microtubules against buckling. Composites also undergo a sharp transition from strain softening to stiffening when the fraction of microtubules (ϕT) exceeds 0.5, which we show arises from faster poroelastic relaxation and suppressed actin bending fluctuations. The force after bead displacement relaxes via power-law decay after an initial period of minimal relaxation. The short-time relaxation profiles (t < 0.06 s) arise from poroelastic and bending contributions, whereas the long-time power-law relaxation is indicative of filaments reptating out of deformed entanglement constraints. The scaling exponents for the long-time relaxation exhibit a nonmonotonic dependence on ϕT, reaching a maximum for equimolar composites (ϕT = 0.5), suggesting that reptation is fastest in ϕT = 0.5 composites. Corresponding mobility measurements of steady-state actin and microtubules show that both filaments are indeed the most mobile in ϕT = 0.5 composites. This nonmonotonic dependence of mobility on ϕT demonstrates the important interplay between mesh size and filament rigidity in polymer networks and highlights the surprising emergent properties that can arise in composites.
Project description:The cytoskeleton, a complex network of protein filaments and crosslinking proteins, dictates diverse cellular processes ranging from division to cargo transport. Yet, the role the cytoskeleton plays in the intracellular transport of DNA and other macromolecules remains poorly understood. Here, using single-molecule conformational tracking, we measure the transport and conformational dynamics of linear and relaxed circular (ring) DNA in composite networks of actin and microtubules with variable types of crosslinking. While both linear and ring DNA undergo anomalous, non-Gaussian, and non-ergodic subdiffusion, the detailed dynamics are controlled by both DNA topology (linear vs. ring) and crosslinking motif. Ring DNA swells, exhibiting heterogeneous subdiffusion controlled via threading by cytoskeleton filaments, while linear DNA compacts, exhibiting transport via caging and hopping. Importantly, while the crosslinking motif has little effect on ring DNA, linear DNA in networks with actin-microtubule crosslinking is significantly less ergodic and shows more heterogeneous transport than with actin-actin or microtubule-microtubule crosslinking.
Project description:The actin cytoskeleton is organized into diverse meshworks and bundles that support many aspects of cell physiology. Understanding the self-assembly of these actin-based structures is essential for developing predictive models of cytoskeletal organization. Here we show that the competing kinetics of bundle formation with the onset of dynamic arrest arising from filament entanglements and crosslinking determine the architecture of reconstituted actin networks formed with ?-actinin crosslinks. Crosslink-mediated bundle formation only occurs in dilute solutions of highly mobile actin filaments. As actin polymerization proceeds, filament mobility and bundle formation are arrested concomitantly. By controlling the onset of dynamic arrest, perturbations to actin assembly kinetics dramatically alter the architecture of biochemically identical samples. Thus, the morphology of reconstituted F-actin networks is a kinetically determined structure similar to those formed by physical gels and glasses. These results establish mechanisms controlling the structure and mechanics in diverse semiflexible biopolymer networks.
Project description:The actin cytoskeleton has been implicated in restricting diffusion of plasma membrane components. Here, simultaneous observations of quantum dot-labelled FcepsilonRI motion and GFP-tagged actin dynamics provide direct evidence that actin filament bundles define micron-sized domains that confine mobile receptors. Dynamic reorganization of actin structures occurs over seconds, making the location and dimensions of actin-defined domains time-dependent. Multiple FcepsilonRI often maintain extended close proximity without detectable correlated motion, suggesting that they are co-confined within membrane domains. FcepsilonRI signalling is activated by crosslinking with multivalent antigen. We show that receptors become immobilized within seconds of crosslinking. Disruption of the actin cytoskeleton results in delayed immobilization kinetics and increased diffusion of crosslinked clusters. These results implicate actin in membrane partitioning that not only restricts diffusion of membrane proteins, but also dynamically influences their long-range mobility, sequestration and response to ligand binding.
Project description:In this study, silk fibroin and hyaluronic acid (HA) were enzymatically crosslinked to form biocompatible composite hydrogels with tunable mechanical properties similar to that of native tissues. The formation of di-tyrosine crosslinks between silk fibroin proteins via horseradish peroxidase has resulted in a highly elastic hydrogel but exhibits time-dependent stiffening related to silk self-assembly and crystallization. Utilizing the same method of crosslinking, tyramine-substituted HA forms hydrophilic and bioactive hydrogels that tend to have limited mechanics and degrade rapidly. To address the limitations of these singular component scaffolds, HA was covalently crosslinked with silk, forming a composite hydrogel that exhibited both mechanical integrity and hydrophilicity. The composite hydrogels were assessed using unconfined compression and infrared spectroscopy to reveal of the physical properties over time in relation to polymer concentration. In addition, the hydrogels were characterized by enzymatic degradation and for cytotoxicity. Results showed that increasing HA concentration, decreased gelation time, increased degradation rate, and reduced changes that were observed over time in mechanics, water retention, and crystallization. These hydrogel composites provide a biologically relevant system with controllable temporal stiffening and elasticity, thus offering enhanced tunable scaffolds for short or long term applications in tissue engineering.
Project description:Translocation of cytosolic cPKC to the plasma membrane is a key event in their activation process but its exact nature is still unclear with particular dispute whether sole diffusion or additional active transport along the cell's cytoskeleton contributes to cPKC's dynamics. This was addressed by analyzing the recruitment behavior of PKC? while manipulating the cytoskeleton. Photolytic Ca2+ uncaging allowed us to quantify the kinetics of PKC? redistribution to the plasma membrane when fused to monomeric, dimeric and tetrameric fluorescence proteins. Results indicated that translocation kinetics were modulated by the state of oligomerization as expected for varying Stokes' radii of the participating proteins. Following depolymerization of the microtubules and the actin filaments we found that Ca2+ induced membrane accumulation of PKC? was independent of the filamentous state of the cytoskeleton. Fusion of PKC? to the photo-convertible fluorescent protein Dendra2 enabled the investigation of PKC?-cytoskeleton interactions under resting conditions. Redistribution following spatially restricted photoconversion showed that the mobility of the fusion protein was independent of the state of the cytoskeleton. Our data demonstrated that in living cells neither actin filaments nor microtubules contribute to PKC?'s cytosolic mobility or Ca2+-induced translocation to the plasma membrane. Instead translocation is a solely diffusion-driven process.
Project description:The local interaction of F-actin with myosin-II motor filaments and crosslinking proteins is crucial for the force generation, dynamics, and reorganization of the intracellular cytoskeleton. By using a bottom-up approach, we are able to show that the contractility of reconstituted active actin systems is tightly controlled by the local pH. The pH-dependent intrinsic crossbridge strength of myosin-II is identified to account for a sharp transition of the actin/myosin-II activity from noncontractile to contractile by a change in pH of only 0.1. This pH-dependent contractility is a generic feature, which is observed in all studied crosslinked actin/myosin-II systems. The specific type and concentration of crosslinking protein allows one to sensitively adjust the range of pH where contraction occurs, which can recover the behavior found in Xenopus laevis oocyte extracts. Small variations in pH provide a mechanism of controlling the contractility of cytoskeletal structures, which can be expected to have broad implications in our understanding of cytoskeletal regulation.
Project description:Simplified in vitro systems are ideally suited for studying the principle mechanisms of the contraction of cytoskeletal actin systems. To shed light on the dependence of the contraction mechanism on the nature of the crosslinking proteins, we study reconstituted in vitro active actin networks on different length scales ranging from the molecular organization to the macroscopic contraction. Distinct contraction mechanisms are observed in polar and apolar crosslinked active gels whereas composite active gels crosslinked in a polar and apolar fashion at the same time exhibit both mechanisms simultaneously. In polar active actin/fascin networks initially bundles are formed which are then rearranged. In contrast, apolar cortexillin-I crosslinked active gels are bundled only after reorganization of actin filaments by myosin-II motor filaments.
Project description:The development of the nervous system requires cytoskeleton-mediated processes coordinating self-renewal, migration, and differentiation of neurons. It is not surprising that many neurodevelopmental problems and neurodegenerative disorders are caused by deficiencies in cytoskeleton-related genes. For this reason, we focus on the cytoskeletal dynamics in proliferating iPSCs and in iPSC-derived neurons to better characterize the underpinnings of cytoskeletal organization looking at actin and tubulin repolymerization studies using the cell permeable probes SiR-Actin and SiR-Tubulin. During neurogenesis, each neuron extends an axon in a complex and changing environment to reach its final target. The dynamic behavior of the growth cone and its capacity to respond to multiple spatial information allows it to find its correct target. We decided to characterize various parameters of the actin filaments and microtubules. Our results suggest that a rapid re-organization of the cytoskeleton occurs 45 minutes after treatments with de-polymerizing agents in iPSCs and 60 minutes in iPSC-derived neurons in both actin filaments and microtubules. The quantitative data confirm that the actin filaments have a primary role in the re-organization of the cytoskeleton soon after de-polymerization, while microtubules have a major function following cytoskeletal stabilization. In conclusion, we investigate the possibility that de-polymerization of the actin filaments may have an impact on microtubules organization and that de-polymerization of the microtubules may affect the stability of the actin filaments. Our results suggest that a reciprocal influence of the actin filaments occurs over the microtubules and vice versa in both in iPSCs and iPSC-derived neurons.