The use of mixed collagen-Matrigel matrices of increasing complexity recapitulates the biphasic role of cell adhesion in cancer cell migration: ECM sensing, remodeling and forces at the leading edge of cancer invasion.
ABSTRACT: The migration of cancer cells is highly regulated by the biomechanical properties of their local microenvironment. Using 3D scaffolds of simple composition, several aspects of cancer cell mechanosensing (signal transduction, EMC remodeling, traction forces) have been separately analyzed in the context of cell migration. However, a combined study of these factors in 3D scaffolds that more closely resemble the complex microenvironment of the cancer ECM is still missing. Here, we present a comprehensive, quantitative analysis of the role of cell-ECM interactions in cancer cell migration within a highly physiological environment consisting of mixed Matrigel-collagen hydrogel scaffolds of increasing complexity that mimic the tumor microenvironment at the leading edge of cancer invasion. We quantitatively show that the presence of Matrigel increases hydrogel stiffness, which promotes ?1 integrin expression and metalloproteinase activity in H1299 lung cancer cells. Then, we show that ECM remodeling activity causes matrix alignment and compaction that favors higher tractions exerted by the cells. However, these traction forces do not linearly translate into increased motility due to a biphasic role of cell adhesions in cell migration: at low concentration Matrigel promotes migration-effective tractions exerted through a high number of small sized focal adhesions. However, at high Matrigel concentration, traction forces are exerted through fewer, but larger focal adhesions that favor attachment yielding lower cell motility.
Project description:Recent methods have revealed that cells on planar substrates exert both shear (in-plane) and normal (out-of-plane) tractions against the extracellular matrix (ECM). However, the location and origin of the normal tractions with respect to the adhesive and cytoskeletal elements of cells have not been elucidated. We developed a high-spatiotemporal-resolution, multidimensional (2.5D) traction force microscopy to measure and model the full 3D nature of cellular forces on planar 2D surfaces. We show that shear tractions are centered under elongated focal adhesions whereas upward and downward normal tractions are detected on distal (toward the cell edge) and proximal (toward the cell body) ends of adhesions, respectively. Together, these forces produce significant rotational moments about focal adhesions in both protruding and retracting peripheral regions. Temporal 2.5D traction force microscopy analysis of migrating and spreading cells shows that these rotational moments are highly dynamic, propagating outward with the leading edge of the cell. Finally, we developed a finite element model to examine how rotational moments could be generated about focal adhesions in a thin lamella. Our model suggests that rotational moments can be generated largely via shear lag transfer to the underlying ECM from actomyosin contractility applied at the intracellular surface of a rigid adhesion of finite thickness. Together, these data demonstrate and probe the origin of a previously unappreciated multidimensional stress profile associated with adhesions and highlight the importance of new approaches to characterize cellular forces.
Project description:Cell migration toward areas of higher extracellular matrix (ECM) rigidity via a process called "durotaxis" is thought to contribute to development, immune response, and cancer metastasis. To understand how cells sample ECM rigidity to guide durotaxis, we characterized cell-generated forces on the nanoscale within single mature integrin-based focal adhesions (FAs). We found that individual FAs act autonomously, exhibiting either stable or dynamically fluctuating ("tugging") traction. We show that a FAK/phosphopaxillin/vinculin pathway is essential for high FA traction and to enable tugging FA traction over a broad range of ECM rigidities. We show that tugging FA traction is dispensable for FA maturation, chemotaxis, and haptotaxis but is critical to direct cell migration toward rigid ECM. We conclude that individual FAs dynamically sample rigidity by applying fluctuating pulling forces to the ECM to act as sensors to guide durotaxis, and that FAK/phosphopaxillin/vinculin signaling defines the rigidity range over which this dynamic sensing process operates.
Project description:The generation of traction forces and their transmission to the extracellular environment supports the disseminative migration of cells from a primary tumor. In cancer cells, the periodic variation of nuclear stiffness during the cell cycle provides a functional link between efficient translocation and proliferation. However, the mechanical framework completing this picture remains unexplored. Here, the Fucci2 reporter was expressed in various human epithelial cancer cells to resolve their cell cycle phase transition. The corresponding tractions were captured by a recently developed reference-free confocal traction-force microscopy platform. The combined approach was conducive to the analysis of phase-dependent force variation at the level of individual integrin contacts. Detected forces were invariably higher in the G1 and early S phases than in the ensuing late S/G2, and locally colocalized with high levels of paxillin phosphorylation. Perturbation of paxillin phosphorylation at focal adhesions, obtained through the biochemical inhibition of focal adhesion kinase (FAK) or the transfection of nonphosphorylatable or phosphomimetic paxillin mutants, significantly diminished the force transmitted to the substrate. These data demonstrate a reproducible modulation of force transmission during the cell cycle progression of cancer cells, instrumental to their invasion of dense environments. In addition, they delineate a model in which paxillin phosphorylation supports the mechanical maturation of adhesions relaying forces to the substrate.
Project description:Mesenchymal cell migration relies on the coordinated regulation of the actin and microtubule networks that participate in polarized cell protrusion, adhesion, and contraction. During collective migration, most of the traction forces are generated by the acto-myosin network linked to focal adhesions at the front of leader cells, which transmit these pulling forces to the followers. Here, using an in vitro wound healing assay to induce polarization and collective directed migration of primary astrocytes, we show that the intermediate filament (IF) network composed of vimentin, glial fibrillary acidic protein, and nestin contributes to directed collective movement by controlling the distribution of forces in the migrating cell monolayer. Together with the cytoskeletal linker plectin, these IFs control the organization and dynamics of the acto-myosin network, promoting the actin-driven treadmilling of adherens junctions, thereby facilitating the polarization of leader cells. Independently of their effect on adherens junctions, IFs influence the dynamics and localization of focal adhesions and limit their mechanical coupling to the acto-myosin network. We thus conclude that IFs promote collective directed migration in astrocytes by restricting the generation of traction forces to the front of leader cells, preventing aberrant tractions in the followers, and by contributing to the maintenance of lateral cell-cell interactions.
Project description: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:Cancer cells migrate from the primary tumour into surrounding tissue in order to form metastasis. Cell migration is a highly complex process, which requires continuous remodelling and re-organization of the cytoskeleton and cell-matrix adhesions. Here, we aimed to identify genes controlling aspects of tumour cell migration, including the dynamic organization of cell-matrix adhesions and cellular traction forces. In a siRNA screen targeting most cell adhesion-related genes we identified 200+ genes that regulate size and/or dynamics of cell-matrix adhesions in MCF7 breast cancer cells. In a subsequent secondary screen, the 64 most effective genes were evaluated for growth factor-induced cell migration and validated by tertiary RNAi pool deconvolution experiments. Four validated hits showed significantly enlarged adhesions accompanied by reduced cell migration upon siRNA-mediated knockdown. Furthermore, loss of PPP1R12B, HIPK3 or RAC2 caused cells to exert higher traction forces, as determined by traction force microscopy with elastomeric micropillar post arrays, and led to considerably reduced force turnover. Altogether, we identified genes that co-regulate cell-matrix adhesion dynamics and traction force turnover, thereby modulating overall motility behaviour.
Project description:Cell motility is a cornerstone of embryogenesis, tissue remodeling and repair, and cancer cell invasion. It is generally thought that migrating cells grab and exert traction force onto the extracellular matrix in order to pull the cell body forward. While previous studies have shown that myosin II deficient cells migrate efficiently, whether these cells exert traction forces during cell migration in the absence of the major contractile machinery is currently unknown. Using an array of micron-sized pillars as a force sensor and shRNA specific to each myosin II isoform (A and B), we analyzed how myosin IIA and IIB individually regulate cell migration and traction force generation. Myosin IIA and IIB localized preferentially to the leading edge where traction force was greatest, and the trailing edge, respectively. When individual myosin II isoforms were depleted by shRNA, myosin IIA deficient cells lost actin stress fibers and focal adhesions, whereas myosin IIB deficient cells maintained similar actin organization and focal adhesions as wild-type cells. Interestingly, myosin IIA deficient cells migrated faster than wild-type or myosin IIB deficient cells on both a rigid surface and a pillar array, yet myosin IIA deficient cells exerted significantly less traction force at the leading edge than wild-type or myosin IIB deficient cells. These results suggest that, in the absence of myosin IIA mediated force-generating machinery, cells move with minimal traction forces at the cell periphery, thus demonstrating the remarkable ability of cells to adapt and migrate.
Project description:Cell migration involves complex physical and chemical interactions with the substrate. To probe the mechanical interactions under different regions of migrating 3T3 fibroblasts, we have disrupted cell-substrate adhesions by local application of the GRGDTP peptide, while imaging stress distribution on the substrate with traction force microscopy. Both spontaneous and GRGDTP-induced detachment of the trailing edge caused extensive cell shortening, without changing the overall level of traction forces or the direction of migration. In contrast, disruption of frontal adhesions caused dramatic, global loss of traction forces before any significant shortening of the cell. Although traction forces and cell migration recovered within 10-20 min of transient frontal treatment, persistent treatment with GRGDTP caused the cell to develop traction forces elsewhere and reorient toward a new direction. We conclude that contractile forces of a fibroblast are transmitted to the substrate through two distinct types of adhesions. Leading edge adhesions are unique in their ability to transmit active propulsive forces. Their functions cannot be transferred directly to existing adhesions upon detachment. Trailing end adhesions create passive resistance during cell migration and readily redistribute their loads upon detachment. Our results indicate the distinct nature of mechanical interactions at the leading versus trailing edges, which together generate the mechanical interactions for fibroblast migration.
Project description:An integrative cell migration model incorporating focal adhesion (FA) dynamics, cytoskeleton and nucleus remodeling, actin motor activity, and lamellipodia protrusion is developed for predicting cell spreading and migration behaviors. This work is motivated by two experimental works: (1) cell migration on 2-D substrates under various fibronectin concentrations and (2) cell spreading on 2-D micropatterned geometries. These works suggest (1) cell migration speed takes a maximum at a particular ligand density (?1140 molecules/µm(2)) and (2) that strong traction forces at the corners of the patterns may exist due to combined effects exerted by actin stress fibers (SFs). The integrative model of this paper successfully reproduced these experimental results and indicates the mechanism of cell migration and spreading. In this paper, the mechanical structure of the cell is modeled as having two elastic membranes: an outer cell membrane and an inner nuclear membrane. The two elastic membranes are connected by SFs, which are extended from focal adhesions on the cortical surface to the nuclear membrane. In addition, the model also includes ventral SFs bridging two focal adhesions on the cell surface. The cell deforms and gains traction as transmembrane integrins distributed over the outer cell membrane bond to ligands on the ECM surface, activate SFs, and form focal adhesions. The relationship between the cell migration speed and fibronectin concentration agrees with existing experimental data for Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cell migrations on fibronectin coated surfaces. In addition, the integrated model is validated by showing persistent high stress concentrations at sharp geometrically patterned edges. This model will be used as a predictive model to assist in design and data processing of upcoming microfluidic cell migration assays.
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.