No cell is an island. Cells are influenced by their environment around them, and migrating cells are especially receptive to the surface they are crawling over. Today’s image is from an elegant study on how different forces regulate cell shape and movement.
Cell migration is a highly coordinated process that depends on many factors. One of these factors is the cell’s adhesion to the underlying substrate, and a recent paper clearly spells out how the adhesion strength of a substrate directly affects a migrating cell’s shape and motility. In the images above, migrating cells were placed on surfaces of different adhesion strength. Cells crawling with either low or high adhesion are slow and round compared to cells crawling on surfaces with medium adhesion strength. These alterations in adhesion affect the localization of actin (top, red) and the actin motor myosin (middle, green).
Barnhart, E., Lee, K., Keren, K., Mogilner, A., & Theriot, J. (2011). An Adhesion-Dependent Switch between Mechanisms That Determine Motile Cell Shape PLoS Biology, 9 (5) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001059