Cell communication & adhesion

3D coupling of fibronectin fibril arrangement with topology of ventral plasma membrane.

PMID 22409236


Interaction of integrins with extracellular matrices is essential for cell adhesion to substrata. Ventral surfaces of fibroblasts adhering to flat substrata are not flat but have uneven 3D topology. However, spatial relationship between the topology of the ventral cell surface and arrangement of extracellular matrix fibrils remains unclear. Here, we report a novel and simple method based on total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy to quantify the distance between the ventral plasma membrane and the glass substratum. We observe that the distance varies from < 25 nm at focal adhesions to 40-50 nm at close contacts and > 80 nm in other regions. Furthermore, by applying this novel method, we show that fibronectin fibrils are also separated from the substratum in regions where the ventral cell surface-substratum distance is > 80 nm. Our results reveal that fibronectin fibrils are not simply adsorbed to the glass substratum but follow the ventral cell surface topology.

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