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Date:5/22/2014

tes a front and back to the entire cluster of cells.

Lead author Danfeng Cai, a graduate student in the Denise Montell Lab, suppressed cadherin in different cell types and analyzed the visible guidance defects by making movies of the migrating cells. When cells lacked E-cadherin, they were unable to migrate as an organized group, and the direction of their movement was random and irregular.

Another member of the research team designed an optical sensor of mechanical tension a kind of microscopic spring and inserted it into the cadherin protein. This enabled the measurement of force on the E-cadherin molecules. The results showed that even though the distribution of the protein was uniform, the force per molecule was stronger at the front. "It's kind of amazing that you can make that measurement in living cells," Montell said.

In addition to highlighting E-cadherin's role in cell migration, the paper introduces new experimental tools the team used to probe and analyze E-cadherin in living tissue, the first being the optical sensor of mechanical tension. The researchers found that E-cadherin molecules implanted with the sensor were fully functional. This allowed them to generate transgenic flies containing only E-cadherin molecules with optical sensors.

"This in vivo tension sensor could revolutionize the area of research that strives to elucidate the interplay between biochemical signals and mechanical forces during morphogenesis," Montell said. "In contrast to other approaches that attempt to measure forces in tissues, such as laser cutting, this one is nonperturbing."

A second tool Montell's team developed and reported for the first time is morphodynamic profiling. This quantitative approach allowed the researchers to compare changing cell morphologies over time between different genotypes.

Data from the cell movement imaging were mathematically translated into graphs showing cell protrusion and retraction vel
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Contact: Julie Cohen
julie.cohen@ucsb.edu
805-893-7220
University of California - Santa Barbara
Source:Eurekalert  

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