Role of E-cadherin in membrane-cortex interaction probed by nanotube extrusion

Biophys J. 2009 Mar 18;96(6):2457-65. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2008.11.059.


This study aims to define the role of E-cadherin (Ecad) engagement in cell-cell contact during membrane-cortex interaction. As a tool, we used a hydrodynamic membrane tube extrusion technique to characterize the mechanical interaction between the plasma membrane and the underlying cortical cytoskeleton. Cells were anchored on 4.5 microm beads coated with polylysine (PL) to obtain nonspecific cell adhesion or with an antibody against Ecad to mimic specific Ecad-mediated cell adhesion. We investigated tube length dynamics L(t) over time and through successive extrusions applied to the cell at regular time intervals. A constant slow velocity was observed for the first extrusion, for PL-attached cells. Subsequent extrusions had two phases: an initial high-velocity regime followed by a low-velocity regime. Successive extrusions gradually weakened the binding of the membrane around the tube neck to the underlying cortical cytoskeleton. Cells specifically attached via Ecad first exhibited a very low extrusion velocity regime followed by a faster extrusion regime similar to nonspecific extrusion. This indicates that Ecad strengthens the membrane-cortical cytoskeleton interaction, but only in a restricted area corresponding to the site of contact between the cell and the bead. Occasional giant "cortex" tubes were extruded with specifically anchored cells, demonstrating that the cortex remained tightly bound to the membrane through Ecad-mediated adhesion at the contact site.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies / metabolism
  • Cadherins / metabolism*
  • Cell Adhesion*
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism*
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism*
  • Membrane Fluidity
  • Mice
  • Photomicrography
  • Polylysine / metabolism
  • Video Recording


  • Antibodies
  • Cadherins
  • Polylysine