Matrix properties can alter cellular biological function through physical changes in the cells: Matrix influence on human cell motility

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Journal Watch

Matrix properties can alter cellular biological function through physical changes in the cells: Matrix influence on human cell motility

Article citation: Petrie, R.J., Koo, H., & Yamada, K.M. (August 29, 2014). Generation of compartmentalized pressure by a nuclear piston governs cell motility in a 3D matrix. Science 345 (6200), pp. 1062-1065.

Petrie, et al. (2012) had previously observed different mechanisms of cell movement in primary human fibroblasts, depending upon the matrix on which the cells were cultured: 2D extracellular matrix (ECM) and nonlinear elastic 3D collagen versus linearly elastic 3D cross-linked matrix such as cell-derived matrix (CDM). Differences in intracellular pressure as a result of contractile proteins involved in cellular movement was proposed as a possible mechanism.

In the current study, intracellular pressure was found to be elevated in the cells on CDM compared to cells on ECM. The increased pressure was the result of actomyosin contractility, which generated high-pressure lobopodial protrusions that cells use to move through the 3D CDM. Furthermore, the intracellular pressure is compartmentalized so that a piston-like action of the nucleus pulls the cell forward.

A “Perspective” on the above article, “Many modes of motility” by DeSimone and Horwitz, further explains the relevance of these research findings to cell biology. “Directed cell migration in multicellular organisms is essential to fundamental processes including embryogenesis, defense from infection, and tissue repair and regeneration.” They also conclude that “recent studies of cell motility in 3D environments are challenging the ubiquity and generality of 2D-based models.”

Matrix effects on cell behavior, movement, and self-organization will continue to be an important field of investigation to researchers developing 3D models for research, testing, and regenerative medicine.

(Posted on October 7, 2014)