Biophysical journal

Single-Cell Defects Cause a Long-Range Mechanical Response in a Confluent Epithelial Cell Layer.

PMID 29129266


Epithelial cells are responsible for tissue homeostasis and form a barrier to maintain chemical gradients and mechanical integrity. Therefore, rapid wound closure is crucial for proper tissue function and restoring homeostasis. In this study, the mechanical properties of cells surrounding a single-cell wound are investigated during closure of the defect. The single-cell wound is induced in an intact layer using micropipette action and responses in neighboring cells are monitored with atomic force microscopy. Direct neighbors reveal a rise in the apparent pretension, which is dominated by cortical tension. The same effect was observed for a single-cell wound induced by laser ablation and during closure of a not fully confluent layer. Moreover, changes in the apparent pretension are far reaching and persist even in cells separated by three cell widths from the defect. This shows that epithelial cells respond to minimal wounds in a collective fashion by increased contractility with substantial reach.