Rearrangement of microtubule network under biochemical and mechanical stimulations

Emrah Celik, Midhat H. Abdulreda, Dony Maiguel, Jie Li, Vincent T. Moy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Cells are constantly under the influence of various external forces in their physiological environment. These forces are countered by the viscoelastic properties of the cytoskeleton. To understand the response of the cytoskeleton to biochemical and mechanical stimuli, GFP-tubulin expressing CHO cells were investigated using scanning laser confocal microscopy. Cells treated with nocodazole revealed disruption in the microtubule network within minutes of treatment while keeping the cell shape intact. By contrast, trypsin, a proteolytic agent, altered the shape of CHO cells by breaking the peptide bonds at adhesion sites. CHO cells were also stimulated mechanically by applying an indentation force with an atomic force microscope (AFM) and by shear stress in a parallel plate flow chamber. Mechanical stimulation applied using AFM showed two distinct cytoskeletal responses to the applied force: an immediate response that resulted in the depolymerization and displacement of the microtubules out of the contact zone, and a slower response characterized by tubulin polymerization at the periphery of the indented area. Flow chamber experiments revealed that shear force did not induce formation of new microtubules in CHO cells and that detachment of adherent cells from the substrate occurred independent from the flow direction. Overall, the experimental system described here allows real-time characterization of dynamic changes in cell cytoskeleton in response to the mechano-chemical stimuli and, therefore, provides better understanding of the biophysical and functional properties of cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-201
Number of pages7
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2013


  • AFM
  • CHO cells
  • Confocal microscopy
  • Flow chamber
  • Microtubule network

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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