NBT-II cell locomotion is modulated by restricting the size of focal contacts and is improved through EGF and ROCK signaling

Hong Wen Liu, Chia Ping Lin, Yi Jia Liou, Kuo Wei Hsu, Jung Yen Yang, Chi Hung Lin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Focal contacts, large macromolecular complexes that link the extracellular matrix and the internal cell cytoskeleton, are thought to govern cell locomotion. However, the maturation process through which focal contacts control the cellular migratory machinery by changes in size and molecular composition remain unclear. Here, we fabricated cell growth substrates that contained linear ECM strips of micron- or submicron-width in order to limit the enlargement of focal contacts. We found that NBT-II cells plated on the submicron substrate possessed smaller focal complexes that exhibited a highly dynamic turnover. These cells possessed various leading edges at multiple sites of the cell periphery, which prevented the cell from advancing. In contrast, cells grown on the micron-width substrate possessed large and stable focal adhesions. Most of these cells were elongated bipolar cells that were tethered at both ends and were immobile. Further, EGF and ROCK signaling pathways can modulate the cellular migratory responses according to the substrate guidance. On the submicron-width substrate, EGF treatment increased the focal contact size and the contractile force, causing these cells to develop one leading edge and migrate along the submicron-sized ECM paths. In contrast, inhibition of ROCK signaling decreased the focal contact size for cells plated on the micron substrate. These cells became less tethered and were able to migrate along or even across the micron-sized ECM paths. Our results indicate that formation and maturation of focal contacts is controlled by both ECM cues and intracellular signaling and they play a central role in directed cell motion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-141
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2014


  • Cell motility
  • Extracellular matrix
  • Fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP)
  • Focal adhesion
  • Microcontact printing

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