Microtubule guidance tested through controlled cell geometry

Sabil Huda, Siowling Soh, Didzis Pilans, Marta Byrska-Bishop, Jiwon Kim, Gary Wilk, Gary G. Borisy, Kristiana Kandere-Grzybowska, Bartosz A. Grzybowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


In moving cells dynamic microtubules (MTs) target and disassemble substrate adhesion sites (focal adhesions; FAs) in a process that enables the cell to detach from the substrate and propel itself forward. The short-range interactions between FAs and MT plus ends have been observed in several experimental systems, but the spatial overlap of these structures within the cell has precluded analysis of the putative long-range mechanisms by which MTs growing through the cell body reach FAs in the periphery of the cell. In the work described here cell geometry was controlled to remove the spatial overlap of cellular structures thus allowing for unambiguous observation of MT guidance. Specifically, micropatterning of living cells was combined with high-resolution in-cell imaging and gene product depletion by means of RNA interference to study the long-range MT guidance in quantitative detail. Cells were confined on adhesive triangular microislands that determined cell shape and ensured that FAs localized exclusively at the vertices of the triangular cells. It is shown that initial MT nucleation at the centrosome is random in direction, while the alignment of MT trajectories with the targets (i.e. FAs at vertices) increases with an increasing distance from the centrosome, indicating that MT growth is a non-random, guided process. The guided MT growth is dependent on the presence of FAs at the vertices. The depletion of either myosin IIA or myosin IIB results in depletion of F-actin bundles and spatially unguided MT growth. Taken together our findings provide quantitative evidence of a role for long-range MT guidance in MT targeting of FAs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5790-5799
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of cell science
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Dec

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cell Biology


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