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ACS Nano. 2015 Jun 23;9(6):5846-56. doi: 10.1021/acsnano.5b00430. Epub 2015 Jun 2.

Atomic Force Microscopy Mechanical Mapping of Micropatterned Cells Shows Adhesion Geometry-Dependent Mechanical Response on Local and Global Scales.

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†U1006 INSERM, Aix-Marseille Université, Parc Scientifique et Technologique de Luminy, 163 avenue de Luminy, 13009 Marseille, France.
‡Institut Curie, UMR 144 CNRS/IC, 26 rue d'Ulm, 75248 Cedex 05 Paris, France.


In multicellular organisms, cell shape and organization are dictated by cell-cell or cell-extracellular matrix adhesion interactions. Adhesion complexes crosstalk with the cytoskeleton enabling cells to sense their mechanical environment. Unfortunately, most of cell biology studies, and cell mechanics studies in particular, are conducted on cultured cells adhering to a hard, homogeneous, and unconstrained substrate with nonspecific adhesion sites, thus far from physiological and reproducible conditions. Here, we grew cells on three different fibronectin patterns with identical overall dimensions but different geometries (▽, T, and Y), and investigated their topography and mechanics by atomic force microscopy (AFM). The obtained mechanical maps were reproducible for cells grown on patterns of the same geometry, revealing pattern-specific subcellular differences. We found that local Young's moduli variations are related to the cell adhesion geometry. Additionally, we detected local changes of cell mechanical properties induced by cytoskeletal drugs. We thus provide a method to quantitatively and systematically investigate cell mechanics and their variations, and present further evidence for a tight relation between cell adhesion and mechanics.


atomic force microscopy; cell adhesion; cell elasticity; cell mechanics; force mapping; force spectroscopy; micropatterns

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