- Janshoff, Andreas
- In mature epithelial cells, however, cells adhere to one another through tight junctions, adherens junctions and desmosomes thereby displaying a pronounced apical-basal polarity. In vivo, the apical membrane has a larger surface area and faces the outer surface of the body or the lumen of internal cavities, whereas the basolateral membrane is oriented on the side away from the lumen and forms focal adhesions with the extracellular matrix. The mechanical properties of cells are largely determined by the architecture and dynamics of their viscoelastic cortex, which consists of a contractile, cross-linked actin mesh attached to the plasma membrane via linker proteins. Measuring the mechanical properties of adherent, polarized epithelial cells is usually limited to the upper, i.e., apical side of the cells due to their accessibility on culture dishes. Moreover, contributions from the cell interior comprising various filament types, organelles, and the crowded cytoplasm usually impede examination of the cortex alone. Here, we investigate the viscoelastic properties of basolateral membranes derived from polarized MDCK II epithelia in response to external deformation and compare them to living cells probed at the apical side. Therefore, we grew MDCK II cells on porous surfaces to confluency and removed the upper cell body by sandwich cleavage. The free-standing, defoliated cortices were subject to force indentation and relaxation experiments permitting a precise assessment of cortical viscoelasticity. A new theoretical framework to describe the force cycles is developed and applied to obtain the time-dependent area compressibility modulus of cell cortices from adherent cells. Compared to the viscoelastic response of living cells the basolateral membranes are substantially less fluid and stiffer but obey to the same universal scaling law if excess area is taken into account.
- Issue Date
- Institut für Physikalische Chemie