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Cell Motil Cytoskeleton. 2009 Apr;66(4):193-201. doi: 10.1002/cm.20341.

Compaction of cell shape occurs before decrease of elasticity in CHO-K1 cells treated with actin cytoskeleton disrupting drug cytochalasin D.

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Lehrstuhl für die Physik weicher Materie, Fakultät für Physik und Geowissenschaften, Universität Leipzig, Linnéstrasse 5, Leipzig, Germany.


The actin filaments of the cytoskeleton form a highly dynamic polymer scaffold which is actively involved in many essential mechanisms such as cell migration, transport, mitosis, and mechanosensitivity. We treated CHO-K1 cells with different concentrations of the actin cytoskeleton disrupting drug cytochalasin D. Then investigating the cells' elastic behaviour by scanning force microscopy-based rheology we confirmed for high cytochalasin D concentrations (> or =1.5 microM) a significant decrease of mechanical stability. At lower concentrations we measured no significant softening, but flattening and a horizontal contraction was observable even at low concentrations (> or =0.3 microM) of cytochalasin D. The observed changes in cell shape resulted in a lower cell volume, showing that there is compensation by volume for small decreases in cytoskeletal strength resulting from reduced numbers or lengths of actin filaments. These results suggest that the characteristic functions defining a cell's mechanical stability such as mechanosensitivity can be maintained via small changes in cell volume in order to counter fluctuations in cytoskeletal composition.

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