Directed cell migration is critical for tissue morphogenesis and wound healing, but the mechanism of directional control is poorly understood. Here we show that the direction in which cells extend their leading edge can be controlled by constraining cell shape using micrometer-sized extracellular matrix (ECM) islands. When cultured on square ECM islands in the presence of motility factors, cells preferentially extended lamellipodia, filopodia, and microspikes from their corners. Square cells reoriented their stress fibers and focal adhesions so that tractional forces were concentrated in these corner regions. When cell tension was dissipated, lamellipodia extension ceased. Mechanical interactions between cells and ECM that modulate cytoskeletal tension may therefore play a key role in the control of directional cell motility.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cell tension
- Focal adhesion
- Microcontact printing