Force generated by actomyosin contraction builds bridges between adhesive contacts

EMBO J. 2010 Mar 17;29(6):1055-68. doi: 10.1038/emboj.2010.2. Epub 2010 Feb 11.


Extracellular matrices in vivo are heterogeneous structures containing gaps that cells bridge with an actomyosin network. To understand the basis of bridging, we plated cells on surfaces patterned with fibronectin (FN)-coated stripes separated by non-adhesive regions. Bridges developed large tensions where concave cell edges were anchored to FN by adhesion sites. Actomyosin complexes assembled near those sites (both actin and myosin filaments) and moved towards the centre of the non-adhesive regions in a treadmilling network. Inhibition of myosin-II (MII) or Rho-kinase collapsed bridges, whereas extension continued over adhesive areas. Inhibition of actin polymerization (latrunculin-A, jasplakinolide) also collapsed the actomyosin network. We suggest that MII has distinct functions at different bridge regions: (1) at the concave edges of bridges, MIIA force stimulates actin filament assembly at adhesions and (2) in the body of bridges, myosin cross-links actin filaments and stimulates actomyosin network healing when breaks occur. Both activities ensure turnover of actin networks needed to maintain stable bridges from one adhesive region to another.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism
  • Actomyosin / chemistry*
  • Actomyosin / metabolism
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Kinetics
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology*
  • Myosins / chemistry
  • Myosins / metabolism
  • rho-Associated Kinases / chemistry
  • rho-Associated Kinases / metabolism


  • Actins
  • Actomyosin
  • rho-Associated Kinases
  • Myosins