Force mapping in epithelial cell migration

Olivia Du Roure, Alexandre Saez, Axel Buguin, Robert H. Austin, Philippe Chavrier, Pascal Siberzan, Benoit Ladoux

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

656 Scopus citations


We measure dynamic traction forces exerted by epithelial cells on a substrate. The force sensor is a high-density array of elastomeric microfabricated pillars that support the cells. Traction forces induced by cell migration are deduced from the measurement of the bending of these pillars and are correlated with actin localization by fluorescence microscopy. We use a multiple-particle tracking method to estimate the mechanical activity of cells in real time with a high-spatial resolution (down to 2 μm) imposed by the periodicity of the post array. For these experiments, we use differentiated Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) epithelial cells. Our data provide definite information on mechanical forces exerted by a cellular assembly. The maximum intensity of the forces is localized on the edge of the epithelia. Hepatocyte growth factor promotes cell motility and induces strong scattering activity of MOCK cells. Thus, we compare forces generated by MDCK cells in subconfluent epithelia versus isolated cells after hepatocyte growth factor treatment. Maximal-traction stresses at the edge of a monolayer correspond to higher values than those measured for a single cell and may be due to a collective behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2390-2395
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number7
StatePublished - Feb 15 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


  • Cell mechanics
  • Microfabrication
  • Multiple particle tracking
  • Traction forces


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