In response to external stimuli, cells modulate their adhesive state by regulating the number and intrinsic affinity of receptor/ligand bonds. A number of studies have shown that cell adhesion is dramatically reduced at room or lower temperatures as compared with physiological temperature. However, the underlying mechanism that modulates adhesion is still unclear. Here, we investigated the adhesion of the monocytic cell line THP-1 to a surface coated with intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) as a function of temperature. THP-1 cells express the integrin lymphocyte function-associated antigen-1 (LFA-1), a receptor for ICAM-1. Direct force measurements of cell adhesion and cell elasticity were carried out by atomic force microscopy. Force measurements revealed an increase of the work of de-adhesion with temperature that was coupled to a gradual decrease in cellular stiffness. Of interest, single-molecule measurements revealed that the rupture force of the LFA-1/ICAM-1 complex decreased with temperature. A detailed analysis of the force curves indicated that temperature-modulated cell adhesion was mainly due to the enhanced ability of cells to deform and to form a greater number of longer membrane tethers at physiological temperatures. Together, these results emphasize the importance of cell mechanics and membrane-cytoskeleton interaction on the modulation of cell adhesion.
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