Holding together to share the load


Research Area: Tissue Microstructure, Biophotonics and Image Analysis

Authors: Andrew R. Harris, Alicia Daeden, Guillaume T. Charras

Sustaining and generating mechanical forces is a normal part of life for the tissues in our body. For example, epithelial cells line the internal surfaces of many of our organs and tissues must maintain barrier function while sustaining mechanical loads. This study used AFM indentation to characterize how epithelial layers respond to mechanical indentation. He showed that the formation of specialized intercellular adhesions, called adherens junctions, lead to the emergence of a tissue level tension in cell monolayers. Disruption to the actin cytoskeleton or cadherin mediated adhesion resulted in a reduced tension and compromised the ability of these simple tissues to sustain mechanical loads. Future work will focus on the role of other intercellular adhesion proteins and the interface to the extracellular matrix in determining tissue mechanical strength and prestress, that could be critical for our understanding of diseases of tissue fragility.

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