PerspectiveCell Biology

A cellular sense of space and pressure

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Science  16 Oct 2020:
Vol. 370, Issue 6514, pp. 295-296
DOI: 10.1126/science.abe3881

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Summary

During health or disease, cells traverse great distances along complex landscapes of chemical and physical cues, for instance, to heal wounds or to seed cancer metastases in the body. They navigate through tight, fluid-filled tissue channels and squeeze through narrow blood vessel pores. To choose the best path while avoiding entrapment, cells must gauge the space around them and accommodate their movements to it. On pages 310 and 311 of this issue, Lomakin et al. (1) and Venturini et al. (2), respectively, find that embryonic, immune, and cancer cells sense confinement through deformation of their nucleus. Stretch in the nuclear membrane activates the enzyme cytosolic phospholipase A2 (cPLA2), which initiates cell blebbing and movements that may help cells to crawl within or out of narrow spaces. Both studies add to the emerging idea that the nucleus, besides its genetic functions, directly senses the cell's physical environment.

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