Exertion of tractional force requires the coordinated up-regulation of cell contractility and adhesion

Partha Roy, Walter M Petroll, Harrison D Cavanagh, James V. Jester

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Although it is understood that cells exert mechanical forces on the extracellular matrix to promote structural organization, the exact mechanism of force transduction is not clearly understood. Using an in vitro force measurement assay, we evaluated two opposing conditions that inhibit or promote matrix organization by fibroblasts: serum deprivation and lysophosphatidic acid stimulation. Under serum deprivation, in spite of significant cell spreading and pseudopodial motility, rabbit corneal fibroblasts generated little or no force on the matrix within 2 h of observation. Lysophosphatidic acid stimulation of serum-starved cells caused dramatic cell contraction (within 2 min), which correlated temporally with a rapid increase in the tractional force generation on the matrix (0.52 x 10- 7 - 1.9 x 10-7 N; n = 7 experiments). No cell translocation was observed during the period of force generation in response to lysophosphatidic acid- stimulation. These findings, taken together with a concomitant up-regulation of stress fibers in lysophosphatidic acid stimulated fibroblasts, indicate that contractility of non-motile cells involved in forming stress fibers and strong cell-matrix adhesion is the principal force-generating mechanism involved in matrix organization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-34
Number of pages12
JournalCell Motility and the Cytoskeleton
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1999


  • Collagen matrix
  • Corneal fibroblast
  • Lysophosphatidic acid
  • Mechanical force
  • Wound contraction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Cell Biology


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