Publications

by Keyword: Integrin


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Kechagia, Jenny Z., Ivaska, Johanna, Roca-Cusachs, Pere, (2019). Integrins as biomechanical sensors of the microenvironment Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology 20, (8), 457-473

Integrins, and integrin-mediated adhesions, have long been recognized to provide the main molecular link attaching cells to the extracellular matrix (ECM) and to serve as bidirectional hubs transmitting signals between cells and their environment. Recent evidence has shown that their combined biochemical and mechanical properties also allow integrins to sense, respond to and interact with ECM of differing properties with exquisite specificity. Here, we review this work first by providing an overview of how integrin function is regulated from both a biochemical and a mechanical perspective, affecting integrin cell-surface availability, binding properties, activation or clustering. Then, we address how this biomechanical regulation allows integrins to respond to different ECM physicochemical properties and signals, such as rigidity, composition and spatial distribution. Finally, we discuss the importance of this sensing for major cell functions by taking cell migration and cancer as examples.

Keywords: Cell migration, Extracellular matrix, Integrins, Mechanotransduction, Single-molecule biophysics


Dix, Christina L., Matthews, Helen K., Uroz, Marina, McLaren, Susannah, Wolf, Lucie, Heatley, Nicholas, Win, Zaw, Almada, Pedro, Henriques, Ricardo, Boutros, Michael, Trepat, Xavier, Baum, Buzz, (2018). The role of mitotic cell-substrate adhesion re-modeling in animal cell division Developmental Cell 45, (1), 132-145

Animal cells undergo a dramatic series of shape changes as they divide, which depend on re-modeling of cell-substrate adhesions. Here, we show that while focal adhesion complexes are disassembled during mitotic rounding, integrins remain in place. These integrin-rich contacts connect mitotic cells to the underlying substrate throughout mitosis, guide polarized cell migration following mitotic exit, and are functionally important, since adherent cells undergo division failure when removed from the substrate. Further, the ability of cells to re-spread along pre-existing adhesive contacts is essential for division in cells compromised in their ability to construct a RhoGEF-dependent (Ect2) actomyosin ring. As a result, following Ect2 depletion, cells fail to divide on small adhesive islands but successfully divide on larger patterns, as the connection between daughter cells narrows and severs as they migrate away from one another. In this way, regulated re-modeling of cell-substrate adhesions during mitotic rounding aids division in animal cells.

Keywords: Division, Mitotic-rounding, Integrin-based adhesion, Cytokinesis


Alcaraz, J., Otero, J., Jorba, I., Navajas, D., (2018). Bidirectional mechanobiology between cells and their local extracellular matrix probed by atomic force microscopy Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology 73, 71-81

There is growing recognition that the mechanical interactions between cells and their local extracellular matrix (ECM) are central regulators of tissue development, homeostasis, repair and disease progression. The unique ability of atomic force microscopy (AFM) to probe quantitatively mechanical properties and forces at the nanometer or micrometer scales in all kinds of biological samples has been instrumental in the recent advances in cell and tissue mechanics. In this review we illustrate how AFM has provided important insights on our current understanding of the mechanobiology of cells, ECM and cell-ECM bidirectional interactions, particularly in the context of soft acinar tissues like the mammary gland or pulmonary tissue. AFM measurements have revealed that intrinsic cell micromechanics is cell-type specific, and have underscored the prominent role of β1 integrin/FAK(Y397) signaling and the actomyosin cytoskeleton in the mechanoresponses of both parenchymal and stromal cells. Moreover AFM has unveiled that the micromechanics of the ECM obtained by tissue decellularization is unique for each anatomical compartment, which may support both its specific function and cell differentiation. AFM has also enabled identifying critical mechanoregulatory proteins involved in branching morphogenesis (MMP14) and acinar differentiation (α3β1 integrin), and has clarified the role of altered tissue mechanics and architecture in a variety of pathologic conditions. Critical technical issues of AFM mechanical measurements like tip geometry effects are also discussed.

Keywords: Atomic force microscopy, Beta1 integrin, Elastic modulus, Extracellular matrix, Morphogenesis, Tissue decellularization


Sehgal, Poonam, Kong, Xinyu, Wu, Jun, Sunyer, Raimon, Trepat, Xavier, Leckband, Deborah, (2018). Epidermal growth factor receptor and integrins control force-dependent vinculin recruitment to E-cadherin junctions Journal of Cell Science 131, (6), jcs206656

This study reports novel findings that link E-cadherin (also known as CDH1)-mediated force-transduction signaling to vinculin targeting to intercellular junctions via epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and integrins. These results build on previous findings that demonstrated that mechanically perturbed E-cadherin receptors activate phosphoinositide 3-kinase and downstream integrins in an EGFR-dependent manner. Results of this study show that this EGFR-mediated kinase cascade controls the force-dependent recruitment of vinculin to stressed E-cadherin complexes – a key early signature of cadherin-based mechanotransduction. Vinculin targeting requires its phosphorylation at tyrosine 822 by Abl family kinases (hereafter Abl), but the origin of force-dependent Abl activation had not been identified. We now present evidence that integrin activation, which is downstream of EGFR signaling, controls Abl activation, thus linking E-cadherin to Abl through a mechanosensitive signaling network. These findings place EGFR and integrins at the center of a positive-feedback loop, through which force-activated E-cadherin signals regulate vinculin recruitment to cadherin complexes in response to increased intercellular tension.This article has an associated First Person interview with the first author of the paper.

Keywords: Cadherin, Epidermal growth factor receptor, Force transduction, Magnetic twisting cytometry, Vinculin, Integrin


Fraioli, R., Dashnyam, K., Kim, J. H., Perez, R. A., Kim, H. W., Gil, J., Ginebra, M. P., Manero, J. M., Mas-Moruno, C., (2016). Surface guidance of stem cell behavior: Chemically tailored co-presentation of integrin-binding peptides stimulates osteogenic differentiation in vitro and bone formation in vivo Acta Biomaterialia 43, 269-281

Surface modification stands out as a versatile technique to create instructive biomaterials that are able to actively direct stem cell fate. Chemical functionalization of titanium has been used in this work to stimulate the differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) into the osteoblastic lineage, by covalently anchoring a synthetic double-branched molecule (PTF) to the metal that allows a finely controlled presentation of peptidic motifs. In detail, the effect of the RGD adhesive peptide and its synergy motif PHSRN is studied, comparing a random distribution of the two peptides with the chemically-tailored disposition within the custom made synthetic platform, which mimics the interspacing between the motifs observed in fibronectin. Contact angle measurement and XPS analysis are used to prove the efficiency of functionalization. We demonstrate that, by rationally designing ligands, stem cell response can be efficiently guided towards the osteogenic phenotype: In vitro, PTF-functionalized surfaces support hMSCs adhesion, with higher cell area and formation of focal contacts, expression of the integrin receptor α5β1 and the osteogenic marker Runx2, and deposition a highly mineralized matrix, reaching values of mineralization comparable to fibronectin. Our strategy is also demonstrated to be efficient in promoting new bone growth in vivo in a rat calvarial defect. These results highlight the efficacy of chemical control over the presentation of bioactive peptides; such systems may be used to engineer bioactive surfaces with improved osseointegrative properties, or can be easily tuned to generate multi-functional coatings requiring a tailored disposition of the peptidic motifs. Statement of significance Organic coatings have been proposed as a solution to foster osseointegration of orthopedic implants. Among them, extracellular matrix-derived peptide motifs are an interesting biomimetic strategy to harness cell-surface interactions. Nonetheless, the combination of multiple peptide motifs in a controlled manner is essential to achieve receptor specificity and fully exploit the potentiality of synthetic peptides. Herein, we covalently graft to titanium a double branched molecule to guide stem cell fate in vitro and generate an osseoinductive titanium surface in vivo. Such synthetic ligand allows for the simultaneous presentation of two bioactive motifs, thus is ideal to test the effect of synergic sequences, such as RGD and PHSRN, and is a clear example of the versatility and feasibility of rationally designed biomolecules.

Keywords: hMSCs, Integrin-binding peptides, Osseointegration, RGD-PHSRN, Titanium


Bakker, G. J., Eich, C., Torreno-Pina, J. A., Diez-Ahedo, R., Perez-Samper, G., Van Zanten, T. S., Figdor, C. G., Cambi, A., Garcia-Parajo, M. F., (2012). Lateral mobility of individual integrin nanoclusters orchestrates the onset for leukocyte adhesion Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 109, (13), 4869-4874

Integrins are cell membrane adhesion receptors involved in morphogenesis, immunity, tissue healing, and metastasis. A central, yet unresolved question regarding the function of integrins is how these receptors regulate both their conformation and dynamic nanoscale organization on the membrane to generate adhesion-competent microclusters upon ligand binding. Here we exploit the high spatial (nanometer) accuracy and temporal resolution of single-dye tracking to dissect the relationship between conformational state, lateral mobility, and microclustering of the integrin receptor lymphocyte function-associated antigen 1 (LFA-1) expressed on immune cells. We recently showed that in quiescent monocytes, LFA-1 preorganizes in nanoclusters proximal to nanoscale raft components. We now show that these nanoclusters are primarily mobile on the cell surface with a small (ca. 5%) subset of conformational- active LFA-1 nanoclusters preanchored to the cytoskeleton. Lateral mobility resulted crucial for the formation of microclusters upon ligand binding and for stable adhesion under shear flow. Activation of high-affinity LFA-1 by extracellular Ca 2+ resulted in an eightfold increase on the percentage of immobile nanoclusters and cytoskeleton anchorage. Although having the ability to bind to their ligands, these active nanoclusters failed to support firm adhesion in static and low shear-flow conditions because mobility and clustering capacity were highly compromised. Altogether, our work demonstrates an intricate coupling between conformation and lateral diffusion of LFA-1 and further underscores the crucial role of mobility for the onset of LFA-1 mediated leukocyte adhesion.

Keywords: Cumulative probability distribution, Integrin lymphocyte function-associated antigen 1, Intercellular adhesion molecule, Single molecule detection


Acerbi, I., Luque, T., Giménez, A., Puig, M., Reguart, N., Farré, R., Navajas, D., Alcaraz, J., (2012). Integrin-specific mechanoresponses to compression and extension probed by cylindrical flat-ended afm tips in lung cells PLoS ONE 7, (2), e32261

Cells from lung and other tissues are subjected to forces of opposing directions that are largely transmitted through integrin-mediated adhesions. How cells respond to force bidirectionality remains ill defined. To address this question, we nanofabricated flat-ended cylindrical Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) tips with ~1 μm 2 cross-section area. Tips were uncoated or coated with either integrin-specific (RGD) or non-specific (RGE/BSA) molecules, brought into contact with lung epithelial cells or fibroblasts for 30 s to form focal adhesion precursors, and used to probe cell resistance to deformation in compression and extension. We found that cell resistance to compression was globally higher than to extension regardless of the tip coating. In contrast, both tip-cell adhesion strength and resistance to compression and extension were the highest when probed at integrin-specific adhesions. These integrin-specific mechanoresponses required an intact actin cytoskeleton, and were dependent on tyrosine phosphatases and Ca 2+ signaling. Cell asymmetric mechanoresponse to compression and extension remained after 5 minutes of tip-cell adhesion, revealing that asymmetric resistance to force directionality is an intrinsic property of lung cells, as in most soft tissues. Our findings provide new insights on how lung cells probe the mechanochemical properties of the microenvironment, an important process for migration, repair and tissue homeostasis.

Keywords: Arginylglycylaspartic acid, Arginylglycylglutamic acid, Bovine serum albumin, Calcium ion, Integrin, Protein tyrosine phosphatase, Unclassified drug


Hristova, K., Pecheva, E., Pramatarova, L., Altankov, G., (2011). Improved interaction of osteoblast-like cells with apatite-nanodiamond coatings depends on fibronectin Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Medicine , 22, (8), 1891-1900

New apatite (AP)/nanodiamond (ND) coating has been developed to improve physical and biological properties of stainless steel (SS) versus single AP coating. Homogeneously electrodeposited AP-ND layer demonstrates increased mechanical strength, interlayer cohesion and ductility. In the absence of serum, osteoblast-like MG63 cells attach well but poorly spread on both AP and AP-ND substrata. Pre-adsorption with serum or fibronectin (FN) improves the cellular interaction-an effect that is better pronounced on the AP-ND coating. In single protein adsorption study fluorescein isothiocyanate-labeled FN (FITC-FN) shows enhanced deposition on the AP-ND layer consistent with the significantly improved cell adhesion, spreading and focal adhesions formation (in comparison to SS and AP), particularly at low FN adsorption concentrations (1 mu g/ml). Higher FN concentrations (20 mu g/ml) abolish this difference suggesting that the promoted cellular interaction of serum (where FN is low) is caused by the greater affinity for FN. Moreover, it is found that MG63 cells tend to rearrange both adsorbed and secreted FN on the AP-ND layer suggesting facilitated FN matrix formation.

Keywords: Extracellular-matrix, Protein adsorption, Integrins, Adhesion, Biomaterials, Surfaces, Polymerization, Composite, Implants, Titanium


van Zanten, T. S., Cambi, A., Koopman, M., Joosten, B., Figdor, Carl G., Garcia-Parajo, M. F., (2009). Hotspots of GPI-anchored proteins and integrin nanoclusters function as nucleation sites for cell adhesion Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 106, (44), 18557-18562

Recruitment of receptor proteins to lipid rafts has been proposed as an important mechanism to regulate their cellular function. In particular, rafts have been implicated in regulation of integrin-mediated cell adhesion, although the underlying mechanism remains elusive. We used single-molecule near-field optical microscopy (NSOM) with localization accuracy of approximately 3 nm, to capture the spatio-functional relationship between the integrin LFA-1 and raft components (GPI-APs) on immune cells. Dual color nanoscale imaging revealed the existence of a nanodomain GPI-AP subpopulation that further concentrated in regions smaller than 250 nm, suggesting a hierarchical prearrangement of GPI-APs on resting monocytes. We previously demonstrated that in quiescent monocytes, LFA-1 preorganizes in nanoclusters. We now show that integrin nanoclusters are spatially different but reside proximal to GPI-AP nanodomains, forming hotspots on the cell surface. Ligand-mediated integrin activation resulted in an interconversion from monomers to nanodomains of GPI-APs and the generation of nascent adhesion sites where integrin and GPI-APs colocalized at the nanoscale. Cholesterol depletion significantly affected the reciprocal distribution pattern of LFA-1 and GPI-APs in the resting state, and LFA-1 adhesion to its ligand. As such, our data demonstrate the existence of nanoplatforms as essential intermediates in nascent cell adhesion. Since raft association with a variety of membrane proteins other than LFA-1 has been documented, we propose that hotspots regions enriched with raft components and functional receptors may constitute a prototype of nanoscale inter-receptor assembly and correspond to a generic mechanism to offer cells with privileged areas for rapid cellular function and responses to the outside world.

Keywords: Integrin LFA-1, Membrane nanocompartments, Near-field scanning optical microscopy (NSOM), Single molecule detection


Gugutkov, Dencho, Gonzalez-Garcia, Cristina, Rodriguez Hernandez, Jose Carlos, Altankov, George, Salmeron-Sanchez, Manuel, (2009). Biological activity of the substrate-induced fibronectin network: insight into the third dimension through electrospun fibers Langmuir , 25, (18), 10893-10900

Fibronectin (FN) fibrillogenesis is a cell-mediated process involving integrin activation that results in conformational changes of FN molecules and the organization of actin cytoskeleton. A similar process can be induced by some chemistries in the absence of cells, e.g., poly(ethyl acrylate) (PEA), which enhance FN-FN interactions leading to the formation of a biologically active network. Atomic force microscopy images of single FN molecules, at the early stages of adsorption on plane PEA, allow one to rationalize the process. Further, the role of the spatial organization of the FN network on the cellular response is investigated through its adsorption on electrospun fibers. Randomly oriented and aligned PEA fibers were prepared to mimic the three-dimensional organization of the extracellular matrix. The formation of the FN network on the PEA fibers but not on the supporting coverglass was confirmed. Fibroblasts aligned with oriented fibers, displayed extended morphology, developed linearly organized focal adhesion complexes, and matured actin filaments. Conversely, on random PEA fibers, cells acquired polygonal morphology with altered actin cytoskeleton but well-developed focal adhesions. Late FN matrix formation was also influenced: spatially organized FN matrix fibrils along the oriented PEA fibers and an altered arrangement on random ones.

Keywords: AFM, Cell-adhesion, Dependent conformations, Hydrophobic surfaces, Extracellular-matrix, Bound fibronectin, Polymer surfaces, Integrin binding, Biocompatibility, Adsorption


Rico, P., Rodriguez Hernandez, J. C., Moratal, D., Altankov, G., Monleon Pradas, M., Salmeron-Sanchez, M., (2009). Substrate-induced assembly of fibronectin into networks. Influence of surface chemistry and effect on osteoblast adhesion Tissue Engineering Part A , 15, (00), 1-11

The influence of surface chemistry -substrates with controlled surface density of -OH groups- on fibronectin conformation and distribution is directly observed by Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM). FN fibrillogenesis, which is known to be a process triggered by interaction with integrins, is shown in our case to be induced by the substrate (in absence of cells), which is able to enhance FN-FN interactions leading to the formation of a protein network on the material surface. This phenomenon depends both on surface chemistry and protein concentration. The level of the FN fibrillogenesis was quantified by calculating the fractal dimension of the adsorbed protein from image analysis of the AFM results. The total amount of adsorbed FN is obtained by making use of a methodology which employs western-blotting combined with image analysis of the corresponding protein bands, with the lowest sensitivity threshold equal to 15 ng of adsorbed protein. Furthermore, FN adsorption is correlated to human osteoblast adhesion through morphology and actin cytoskeleton formation. Actin polymerization is in need of the formation of the protein network on the substrate's surface. Cell morphology is more rounded (as quantified by calculating the circularity of the cells by image analysis) the lower the degree of FN fibrillogenesis on the substrate.

Keywords: Cell-adhesion, Conformational-changes, Electron-microscopy, Protein adsorption, Fractal dimension, Integrin binding, Biocompatibility, Monolayers, Matrix, Fibrillogenesis