Cell Biology

Cellular Mechanics Up Close and Personal

Science's STKE  09 Jan 2007:
Vol. 2007, Issue 368, pp. tw15
DOI: 10.1126/stke.3682007tw15

As they move, vertebrate cells can transmit mechanical information from their insides to their outsides and vice versa. A major pathway for this is through integrin-mediated adhesive interactions between the actin cytoskeleton and the extracellular matrix. Hu et al. focus on defining the protein interface mediating the interaction between the cytoskeleton and the extracellular matrix that are part of integrin-based focal adhesions by using sophisticated live-cell microscopic analysis. The motion of the actin cytoskeleton is differentially transmitted through focal adhesions, with the efficiency of transmission gradually decreasing from actin-binding proteins to integrins, defining the focal adhesion as a hierarchical molecular clutch. The internal molecular dynamics of focal adhesions thus represents a key element in the mechanics of cell morphogenesis during migration.

K. Hu, L. Ji, K. T. Applegate, G. Danuser, C. M. Waterman-Storer, Differential transmission of actin motion within focal adhesions. Science 315, 111-115 (2007). [Abstract] [Full Text]