Macrophage tissue infiltration is a critical step in the immune response against microorganisms and is also associated with disease progression in chronic inflammation and cancer. Macrophages are constitutively equipped with specialized structures called podosomes dedicated to extracellular matrix (ECM) degradation. We recently reported that these structures play a critical role in trans-matrix mesenchymal migration mode, a protease-dependent mechanism. Podosome molecular components and their ECM-degrading activity have been extensively studied in two dimensions (2D), but yet very little is known about their fate in three-dimensional (3D) environments. Therefore, localization of podosome markers and proteolytic activity were carefully examined in human macrophages performing mesenchymal migration. Using our gelled collagen I 3D matrix model to obligate human macrophages to perform mesenchymal migration, classical podosome markers including talin, paxillin, vinculin, gelsolin, cortactin were found to accumulate at the tip of F-actin-rich cell protrusions together with β1 integrin and CD44 but not β2 integrin. Macrophage proteolytic activity was observed at podosome-like protrusion sites using confocal fluorescence microscopy and electron microscopy. The formation of migration tunnels by macrophages inside the matrix was accomplished by degradation, engulfment and mechanic compaction of the matrix. In addition, videomicroscopy revealed that 3D F-actin-rich protrusions of migrating macrophages were as dynamic as their 2D counterparts. Overall, the specifications of 3D podosomes resembled those of 2D podosome rosettes rather than those of individual podosomes. This observation was further supported by the aspect of 3D podosomes in fibroblasts expressing Hck, a master regulator of podosome rosettes in macrophages. In conclusion, human macrophage podosomes go 3D and take the shape of spherical podosome rosettes when the cells perform mesenchymal migration. This work sets the scene for future studies of molecular and cellular processes regulating macrophage trans-migration.
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