Overview Cell Structures Cell Migration Cell Division  

Responses of Cell Shape and Migration to Pillar Topography

Frey et al., Biophys. J. 90:3774-3782 (2006)

While most experiments in vitro are carried out with cells on flat surfaces, the topography of the environment in vivo is much more complex. To determine the effects of surface topography on cell shape and migration, 3T3 fibroblasts were plated on a charged polystyrene surface with micron-sized pillars.

Cells on Pillar Surfaces Show Branched Morphology and Surging Movements

Unlike the smooth movement lead by broad lamellipodia for cells on flat surfaces, cells migrating on a polystyrene surface with pillar features are more branched in shape and the movement is affected by the preferential adhesion with pillar features. Recording time, 46 min.

Cells on Pillar Surfaces Show Unsteady, Surging Movements

Note the preferential association of cell extensions with pillars, the surge toward pillars, and the zigzag pattern of migration. Duration of recording, 122 minutes.

Response to Pillar Topography Requires Myosin II

Cells treated with 100 μM blebbistatin show a similar elongated and irregular shape on pillar and flat substrates. Cell migration no longer responds to the pillars. Duration of recording, 120 minutes.

Response to Pillar Topography Requires Focal Adhesion Kinase

FAK knockout cells show a lack of turning responses to pillars. The cell shows smooth migration as cells on flat surfaces. Duration of recording, 120 min.