Extracellular matrix rigidity causes strengthening of integrin- cytoskeleton linkages

Daniel Choquet, Dan P. Felsenfeld, Michael P. Sheetz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1022 Scopus citations


To move forward, migrating cells must generate traction forces through surface receptors bound to extracellular matrix molecules coupled to a rigid structure. We investigated whether cells sample and respond to the rigidity of the anchoring matrix. Movement of beads coated with fibronectin or an anti-integrin antibody was restrained with an optical trap on fibroblasts to mimic extracellular attachment sites of different resistance. Cells precisely sense the restraining force on fibronectin beads and respond by a localized, proportional strengthening of the cytoskeleton linkages, allowing stronger force to be exerted on the integrins. This strengthening was absent or transient with antibody beads, but restored with soluble fibronectin. Hence, ligand binding site occupancy was required. Finally, phenylarsine oxide inhibited strengthening of cytoskeletal linkages, indicating a role for dephosphorylation. Thus, the strength of integrin-cytoskeleton linkages is dependent on matrix rigidity and on its biochemical composition. Matrix rigidity may, therefore, serve as a guidance cue in a process of mechanotaxis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-48
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 10 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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