Posts Tagged ‘individual’

Force loading explains spatial sensing of ligands by cells

Cells can sense the density and distribution of extracellular matrix (ECM) molecules by means of individual integrin proteins and larger, integrin-containing adhesion complexes within the cell membrane. This spatial sensing drives cellular activity in a variety of normal and pathological contexts. Previous studies of cells on rigid glass surfaces have shown that spatial sensing of ECM ligands takes place at the nanometre scale, with integrin clustering and subsequent formation of focal adhesions impaired when single integrin–ligand bonds are separated by more than a few tens of nanometres. It has thus been suggested that a crosslinking ‘adaptor’ protein of this size might connect integrins to the actin cytoskeleton, acting as a molecular ruler that senses ligand spacing directly. Here, we develop gels whose rigidity and nanometre-scale distribution of ECM ligands can be controlled and altered. We find that increasing the spacing between ligands promotes the growth of focal adhesions on low-rigidity substrates, but leads to adhesion collapse on more-rigid substrates. Furthermore, disordering the ligand distribution drastically increases adhesion growth, but reduces the rigidity threshold for adhesion collapse. The growth and collapse of focal adhesions are mirrored by, respectively, the nuclear or cytosolic localization of the transcriptional regulator protein YAP. We explain these findings not through direct sensing of ligand spacing, but by using an expanded computational molecular-clutch model, in which individual integrin–ECM bonds—the molecular clutches—respond to force loading by recruiting extra integrins, up to a maximum value. This generates more clutches, redistributing the overall force among them, and reducing the force loading per clutch. At high rigidity and high ligand spacing, maximum recruitment is reached, preventing further force redistribution and leading to adhesion collapse. Measurements of cellular traction forces and actin flow speeds support our model. Our results provide a general framework for how cells sense spatial and physical information at the nanoscale, precisely tuning the range of conditions at which they form adhesions and activate transcriptional regulation.

Share Your Research on a Blog

How can researchers provide information about their studies in ways that would be useful and interesting to prospective and current research participants? With that question in my mind, MethodSpace’s Janet Salmons began to explore the potential for blogs to recruit and inform participants. As with almost any online exploration, she discovered a much broader potential for blogs in the academic world.

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Astronomers detect 15 unusual radio signals from space

The same object that in 2015 became the first ever to be observed giving off repeating fast radio bursts has now emitted more than a dozen additional signals, members of a program designed to hunt for extraterrestrial life in other parts of the universe announced earlier this week. The object, identified as FRB 121102, is […]

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Discovery of 7 times higher complexity of protein folding!

Can protein folding complexity be formed by stochastic processes? With 14 intermediate steps? JILA Team Discovers Many New Twists in Protein Folding Biophysicists at JILA have measured protein folding in more detail than ever before, revealing behavior that is surprisingly more complex than previously known. . . . They fold into three-dimensional shapes that determine […]

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