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Mechanosensitivity of cancer cells in contact with soft substrates

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Cancer cells are usually found to be softer than normal cells, but their stiffness changes when they are in contact with different environments because of mechanosensitivity. For example, they adhere to a given substrate by tuning their cytoskeleton, thus affecting their rheological properties.

This mechanism could become efficient when cancer cells invade the surrounding tissues, and they have to remodel their cytoskeleton in order to achieve particular deformations. Here we use an atomic force microscope (AFM) to study how local mechanical properties of cancer cells are affected by a change of the environment. A general mechanosensitive trend is found where the cell elastic modulus and transition frequency increase with substrate elasticity, but this tendency breaks down with a real endothelium substrate. These effects are investigated further during cell transmigration, when the actin cytoskeleton undergoes a rapid reorganization process necessary to push through the endothelial gap, in agreement with the local changes measured by AFM. Taken together, these results introduce a paradigm for a new possible extravasation mechanism.

Voir en ligne : Yara Abidine, Andrei Constantinescu, Valérie M. Laurent, Vinoth Sundar Rajan, Richard Michel, Valentin Laplaud, Alain Duperray, Claude Verdier, Biophysical Journal 2018