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Role of integrin adhesions in cellular mechanotransduction

Promotor: B. vd Water, T. Schmidt, Co-Promotor: E.H.J. Danen

Hayri Emrah Balcıoğlu
08 maart 2016
Thesis in Leiden Repository

Cells receive mechanical cues from the surrounding extracellular matrix (ECM). This has a strong impact on physiology and pathology in a wide range of biological settings. Integrin receptors couple the ECM to the intracellular cytoskeleton across the cell membrane through a dynamic multiprotein adhesion complex and mediate bidirectional force transmission. In this research the mechanism of cellular mechanotransduction and its role in aspects of cancer progression are studied, focusing on integrins and other integrin associated proteins. We find that the integrin expression profile of cells regulates the orientation and dynamics of force transmission at cell-matrix adhesions. Additionally, using a novel method to quantify the abundance of a molecule in a cellular complex, we show that substrate rigidity modulates the association between traction forces and molecular composition of cell-matrix adhesions. Using cell microprinting in 3D ECM scaffolds, we determine the relation between tumor-induced remote ECM network orientation and angiogenesis. Lastly, genes that regulate cancer cell migration, force application, and adhesion dynamics are identified. Overall, the work described in this thesis unravels the role of cellular mechanotransduction in different aspects of cancer progression and reveals how the molecular composition of cell-matrix adhesions relates to traction force generation.

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