During cell migration, the movement of the nucleus must be coordinated with the cytoskeletal dynamics at the leading edge and trailing end, and, as a result, undergoes complex changes in position and shape, which in turn affects cell polarity, shape, and migration efficiency. We here describe the steps of nuclear positioning and deformation during cell polarization and migration, focusing on migration through three-dimensional matrices. We discuss molecular components that govern nuclear shape and stiffness, and review how nuclear dynamics are connected to and controlled by the actin, tubulin and intermediate cytoskeleton-based migration machinery and how this regulation is altered in pathological conditions. Understanding the regulation of nuclear biomechanics has important implications for cell migration during tissue regeneration, immune defence and cancer.
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