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Modeling of the mechano-chemical behaviour of the nuclear pore complex: current research and perspectives

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      Abstract

      This review opens the door to the consideration of how mechanosensing and mechanotransduction can affect the nanomechanics of the NPC.

      Abstract

      Recent evidence suggests that mechanical deformation of the cell nucleus regulates the nuclear import of the transcriptional activators of genes involved in primary physiological cell responses such as stem cell differentiation. In addition, this nuclear mechanosensing response is de-regulated in pathological states, such as cancer and neurodegeneration. One hypothesis that could greatly advance the field is that the deformation of the nuclear envelope activates nuclear pore complexes through a direct mechanical link. The understanding of this possible mechanism for nuclear pore complex stretch-activation entails studying the mechanical connection of this complex to the nuclear envelope at the nanoscale. The nanomechanics of the nuclear pore complex is thus emerging as a novel research field, bridging nanoscience with nanotechnology. This review examines the frontier of research methodologies that are potentially useful for building a computational model of this interaction. This includes, for example, electron tomography to assess the geometrical features of the nuclear pore complex and nanoindentation to estimate its mechanical properties and that of the nuclear envelope. In order to summarize the state-of-the-art and perspectives in the field of NPC nanomechanics, this review covers highly interdisciplinary experimental and theoretical research methodologies pertaining to the fields of physics, chemistry, biology, materials and mechanics.

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      Most cited references 81

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      Tensional homeostasis and the malignant phenotype.

      Tumors are stiffer than normal tissue, and tumors have altered integrins. Because integrins are mechanotransducers that regulate cell fate, we asked whether tissue stiffness could promote malignant behavior by modulating integrins. We found that tumors are rigid because they have a stiff stroma and elevated Rho-dependent cytoskeletal tension that drives focal adhesions, disrupts adherens junctions, perturbs tissue polarity, enhances growth, and hinders lumen formation. Matrix stiffness perturbs epithelial morphogenesis by clustering integrins to enhance ERK activation and increase ROCK-generated contractility and focal adhesions. Contractile, EGF-transformed epithelia with elevated ERK and Rho activity could be phenotypically reverted to tissues lacking focal adhesions if Rho-generated contractility or ERK activity was decreased. Thus, ERK and Rho constitute part of an integrated mechanoregulatory circuit linking matrix stiffness to cytoskeletal tension through integrins to regulate tissue phenotype.
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        Mechanotransduction at a distance: mechanically coupling the extracellular matrix with the nucleus.

        Research in cellular mechanotransduction often focuses on how extracellular physical forces are converted into chemical signals at the cell surface. However, mechanical forces that are exerted on surface-adhesion receptors, such as integrins and cadherins, are also channelled along cytoskeletal filaments and concentrated at distant sites in the cytoplasm and nucleus. Here, we explore the molecular mechanisms by which forces might act at a distance to induce mechanochemical conversion in the nucleus and alter gene activities.
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          Cells lying on a bed of microneedles: an approach to isolate mechanical force.

          We describe an approach to manipulate and measure mechanical interactions between cells and their underlying substrates by using microfabricated arrays of elastomeric, microneedle-like posts. By controlling the geometry of the posts, we varied the compliance of the substrate while holding other surface properties constant. Cells attached to, spread across, and deflected multiple posts. The deflections of the posts occurred independently of neighboring posts and, therefore, directly reported the subcellular distribution of traction forces. We report two classes of force-supporting adhesions that exhibit distinct force-size relationships. Force increased with size of adhesions for adhesions larger than 1 microm(2), whereas no such correlation existed for smaller adhesions. By controlling cell adhesion on these micromechanical sensors, we showed that cell morphology regulates the magnitude of traction force generated by cells. Cells that were prevented from spreading and flattening against the substrate did not contract in response to stimulation by serum or lysophosphatidic acid, whereas spread cells did. Contractility in the unspread cells was rescued by expression of constitutively active RhoA. Together, these findings demonstrate a coordination of biochemical and mechanical signals to regulate cell adhesion and mechanics, and they introduce the use of arrays of mechanically isolated sensors to manipulate and measure the mechanical interactions of cells.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [a ] Department of Chemistry , Materials and Chemical Engineering “Giulio Natta” , Politecnico di Milano , Piazza L. da Vinci, 32 , 20133 Milan , Italy . Email: alberto.garcia@ 123456polimi.it ; Tel: +39 02 2399 4729
            Journal
            Integr Biol (Camb)
            Integr Biol (Camb)
            Integrative Biology
            Royal Society of Chemistry
            1757-9694
            1757-9708
            01 October 2016
            21 September 2016
            : 8
            : 10
            : 1011-1021
            27713975 5166569 c6ib00153j 10.1039/c6ib00153j
            This journal is © The Royal Society of Chemistry 2016

            This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/) which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

            Categories
            Chemistry

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