August 26, 2014

If you have little ones in your house, you might assume that the phrase “randomly fluctuating forces” is referring to your home. This phrase actually refers to the background force in a cell coming from active and motor-driven cell processes. Today’s image is from a study that developed a way to measure these forces. 

Actin- and microtubule-based motors move many types of material around a cell to drive critical cellular events. These motor-driven movements and other active processes in the cell contribute to a background of fluctuating forces in a cell. These stochastic forces collectively drive random motion of organelles and proteins within a cell, in turn affecting the dynamics and metabolic state of a cell. To measure these forces, Guo and colleagues developed force spectrum microscopy (FSM) to directly quantify the fluctuating forces in a cell’s cytoplasm, specifically by measuring the movements of individual injected particles. Guo and colleagues found that these forces are strong enough to move both large and small components, and that malignant cells have a higher level of fluctuating forces compared to benign cells. Image above shows a cell with injected particles (green), with the 2-minute trajectories (black) superimposed.

Guo, M., Ehrlicher, A., Jensen, M., Renz, M., Moore, J., Goldman, R., Lippincott-Schwartz, J., Mackintosh, F., & Weitz, D. (2014). Probing the Stochastic, Motor-Driven Properties of the Cytoplasm Using Force Spectrum Microscopy Cell, 158 (4), 822-832 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2014.06.051
Copyright ©2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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