Cell migration, which is central to many biological processes including wound healing and cancer progression, is sensitive to environmental stiffness, and many cell types exhibit a stiffness optimum, at which migration is maximal. Here we present a cell migration simulator that predicts a stiffness optimum that can be shifted by altering the number of active molecular motors and clutches. This prediction is verified experimentally by comparing cell traction and F-actin retrograde flow for two cell types with differing amounts of active motors and clutches: embryonic chick forebrain neurons (ECFNs; optimum ∼ 1 kPa) and U251 glioma cells (optimum ∼ 100 kPa). In addition, the model predicts, and experiments confirm, that the stiffness optimum of U251 glioma cell migration, morphology and F-actin retrograde flow rate can be shifted to lower stiffness by simultaneous drug inhibition of myosin II motors and integrin-mediated adhesions.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank Paul Letourneau for providing EGFP-actin plasmid, the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute and the University of Minnesota Genomics Center. Funding for this project was provided by National Institutes of Health Grants RC1-CA-145044, R01-CA-172986 and U54-CA-210190, National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship number 00006595, University of Minnesota Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science William F. Ranz Fellowship and Bill and Triana Silliman Fellowship, University of Minnesota Informatics Institute Updraft Fund, University of Minnesota Institute for Engineering in Medicine and the University of Minnesota Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program.