Affordable Access

Publisher Website

Cancer cells regulate biomechanical properties of human microvascular endothelial cells.

  • Mierke, Claudia Tanja1
  • 1 Faculty of Physics and Earth Science, Institute for Experimental Physics I, Soft Matter Physics Division, University of Leipzig, Linnèstrasse 5, 04103 Leipzig, Germany. [email protected] , (Germany)
Published Article
Journal of Biological Chemistry
American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Publication Date
Nov 18, 2011
DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M111.256172
PMID: 21940631


Metastasis is a key event of malignant tumor progression. The capability to metastasize depends on the ability of the cancer cell to migrate into connective tissue, adhere, and possibly transmigrate through the endothelium. Previously we reported that the endothelium does not generally act as barrier for cancer cells to migrate in three-dimensional extracellular matrices (3D-ECMs). Instead, the endothelium acts as an enhancer or a promoter for the invasiveness of certain cancer cells. How invasive cancer cells diminish the endothelial barrier function still remains elusive. Therefore, this study investigates whether invasive cancer cells can decrease the endothelial barrier function through alterations of endothelial biomechanical properties. To address this, MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells were used that invade deeper and more numerous into 3D-ECMs when co-cultured with microvascular endothelial cells. Using magnetic tweezer measurements, MDA-MB-231 cells were found to alter the mechanical properties of endothelial cells by reducing endothelial cell stiffness. Using spontaneous bead diffusion, actin cytoskeletal remodeling dynamics were shown to be increased in endothelial cells co-cultured with MDA-MB-231 cells compared with mono-cultured endothelial cells. In addition, knockdown of the α5 integrin subunit in highly transmigrating α5β1(high) cells derived from breast, bladder, and kidney cancer cells abolished the endothelial invasion-enhancing effect comparable with the inhibition of myosin light chain kinase. These results indicate that the endothelial invasion-enhancing effect is α5β1 integrin-dependent. Moreover, inhibition of Rac-1, Rho kinase, MEK kinase, and PI3K reduced the endothelial invasion-enhancing effect, indicating that signaling via small GTPases may play a role in the endothelial facilitated increased invasiveness of cancer cells. In conclusion, decreased stiffness and increased cytoskeletal remodeling dynamics of endothelial cells may account for the breakdown of endothelial barrier function, suggesting that biomechanical alterations are sufficient to facilitate the transmigration and invasion of invasive cancer cells into 3D-ECMs.

Report this publication


Seen <100 times