Local contractions regulate E-cadherin rigidity sensing



Yang YA, Nguyen E, Sankara Narayana GHN, Heuzé M, Fu C, Yu H, Mège RM, Ladoux B, Sheetz MP



Sci Adv.

2022 Jan 28


E-cadherin is a major cell-cell adhesion molecule involved in mechanotransduction at cell-cell contacts in tissues. Because epithelial cells respond to rigidity and tension in tissue through E-cadherin, there must be active processes that test and respond to the mechanical properties of these adhesive contacts. Using submicrometer, E-cadherin-coated polydimethylsiloxane pillars, we find that cells generate local contractions between E-cadherin adhesions and pull to a constant distance for a constant duration, irrespective of pillar rigidity. These cadherin contractions require nonmuscle myosin IIB, tropomyosin 2.1, α-catenin, and binding of vinculin to α-catenin. Cells spread to different areas on soft and rigid surfaces with contractions, but spread equally on soft and rigid without. We further observe that cadherin contractions enable cells to test myosin IIA-mediated tension of neighboring cells and sort out myosin IIA-depleted cells. Thus, we suggest that epithelial cells test and respond to the mechanical characteristics of neighboring cells through cadherin contractions.