Mechanical Force Induced Transition of Cell Protrusions from Blebs to Lamellipodia

Yeh, Chuan-Feng ;   Juang, Duane ;   Hsu, Chia-Hsien

Cancer cells exhibit highly diverse types of membrane protrusions during metastasis and invasion1. Both chemical2 and physical signals in the microenvironment of tumors have been shown to regulate the migratory behavior of cancer cells, but how physical force controls cancer cell migration in an anchorage-independent condition remains unclear. In this study, we developed a new apparatus consisting of a microfabricated thin agarose gel to study the effect of compression force on membrane protrusions of cancer cells in a non-adhesive environment. We observed that compression force can induce a transition of membrane protrusions from blebs to lamellipodia in cancer cells in a non-adhesive cell culture environment. This suggests that compression force can serve as a key mechanical regulator in controlling cell membrane protrusions.