Biophysics

Cell geometry regulates differentiation

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Science  23 Mar 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6382, pp. 1374-1375
DOI: 10.1126/science.359.6382.1374-g

The size and shape (geometry) of cells regulate tension on the cytoskeleton and the contractility of the cell membrane. von Erlach et al. show that mesenchymal stem cells grown in different shapes have varying amounts of cell membrane microdomains known as lipid rafts. These are thought to be focal points for membrane-associated signaling, and the authors demonstrate that their occurrence was dependent on cytoskeletal contraction and cell geometry. Activation of signaling by the AKT kinase occurred at lipid rafts, and this was dependent on cell geometry and membrane contractility. Interestingly, AKT activation at lipid rafts was an important determinant of mesenchymal stem cell lineage, once differentiated.

Nat. Mater. 17, 237 (2018).

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