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Traction forces increase after microtubule depolymerization; however, the signaling mechanisms underlying this, in particular the dependence upon myosin II, remain unclear. We investigated the mechanism of traction force increase after nocodazole-induced microtubule depolymerization by applying traction force microscopy to cells cultured on micropatterned polyacrylamide hydrogels to obtain samples of homogeneous shape and size. Control cells and cells treated with a focal adhesion kinase (FAK) inhibitor showed similar increases in traction forces, indicating that the response is independent of FAK. Surprisingly, pharmacological inhibition of myosin II did not prevent the increase of residual traction forces upon nocodazole treatment. This increase was abolished upon pharmacological inhibition of FAK. These results suggest two distinct pathways for the regulation of traction forces. First, microtubule depolymerization activates a myosin-II-dependent mechanism through a FAK-independent pathway. Second, microtubule depolymerization also enhances traction forces through a myosin-II-independent, FAK-regulated pathway. Traction forces are therefore regulated by a complex network of complementary signals and force-generating mechanisms.


Andrew Rape, Wei-hui Guo, Yu-li Wang. Microtubule depolymerization induces traction force increase through two distinct pathways. Journal of cell science. 2011 Dec 15;124(Pt 24):4233-40

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PMID: 22193960

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