Physical confinement alters tumor cell adhesion and migration phenotypes

FASEB Journal : Official Publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Eric M BalzerKonstantinos Konstantopoulos


Cell migration on planar surfaces is driven by cycles of actin protrusion, integrin-mediated adhesion, and myosin-mediated contraction; however, this mechanism may not accurately describe movement in 3-dimensional (3D) space. By subjecting cells to restrictive 3D environments, we demonstrate that physical confinement constitutes a biophysical stimulus that alters cell morphology and suppresses mesenchymal motility in human breast carcinoma (MDA-MB-231). Dorsoventral polarity, stress fibers, and focal adhesions are markedly attenuated by confinement. Inhibitors of myosin, Rho/ROCK, or β1-integrins do not impair migration through 3-μm-wide channels (confinement), even though these treatments repress motility in 50-μm-wide channels (unconfined migration) by ≥50%. Strikingly, confined migration persists even when F-actin is disrupted, but depends largely on microtubule (MT) dynamics. Interfering with MT polymerization/depolymerization causes confined cells to undergo frequent directional changes, thereby reducing the average net displacement by ≥80% relative to vehicle controls. Live-cell EB1-GFP imaging reveals that confinement redirects MT polymerization toward the leading edge, where MTs continuously impact during advancement of...Continue Reading


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