Main content area

The regulation of dynamic mechanical coupling between actin cytoskeleton and nucleus by matrix geometry

Li, Qingsen, Kumar, Abhishek, Makhija, Ekta, Shivashankar, G.V.
Biomaterials 2014 v.35 no.3 pp. 961-969
actin, chromatin, compression strength, drugs, focal adhesions, gene expression, genomics, geometry, mechanotransduction, microfilaments
Cells sense their physical microenvironment and transduce these signals through actin-nuclear links to regulate nuclear functions including gene expression. However, the spatio-temporal coupling between perinuclear actin and nucleus and their functional importance are still unclear. Using micropatterned substrates to control cell geometry, we show that perinuclear actin organization at the apical plane remodels from mesh-like structure to stress fibers. The formation of these apical stress fibers (ASFs) correlated with significant reduction in nuclear height and was found to exert an active compressive load on the nucleus via direct contact with mature focal adhesion sites. Interestingly, the dynamic nature of ASFs was found to transduce forces to chromatin assembly. In addition, geometric perturbations or using pharmacological drugs to inhibit actomyosin contractility of ASFs resulted in nuclear instability. Taken together, our work provides direct evidence of physical links between the nucleus and focal adhesion sites via ASFs, which modulate nuclear homeostatic balance and internal chromatin structure. We suggest that such direct links may underlie nuclear mechanotransduction to regulate genomic programs.