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Method to study cell migration under uniaxial compression

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Srivastava, N 
Kay, RR 
Kabla, AJ 


The chemical, physical, and mechanical properties of the extracellular environment have a strong effect on cell migration. Aspects such as pore size or stiffness of the matrix influence the selection of the mechanism used by cells to propel themselves, including by pseudopods or blebbing. How a cell perceives its environment and how such a cue triggers a change in behavior are largely unknown, but mechanics is likely to be involved. Because mechanical conditions are often controlled by modifying the composition of the environment, separating chemical and physical contributions is difficult and requires multiple controls. Here we propose a simple method to impose a mechanical compression on individual cells without altering the composition of the matrix. Live imaging during compression provides accurate information about the cell's morphology and migratory phenotype. Using Dictyostelium as a model, we observe that a compression of the order of 500 Pa flattens the cells under gel by up to 50%. This uniaxial compression directly triggers a transition in the mode of migration from primarily pseudopodial to bleb driven in <30 s. This novel device is therefore capable of influencing cell migration in real time and offers a convenient approach with which to systematically study mechanotransduction in confined environments.



Cell Movement, Dictyostelium, Extracellular Matrix, Mechanotransduction, Cellular, Pseudopodia, Stress, Mechanical, Weight-Bearing, Weights and Measures

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Molecular Biology of the Cell

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American Society for Cell Biology
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BB/K018175/1)
This work is supported by a Dr. Manmohan Singh Scholarship from St. John's College to N.S., Medical Research Council Core Funding MC_U105115237 to R.R.K., and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council Grant BB/K018175/1 to A.J.K.