External forces control mitotic spindle positioning

Nat Cell Biol. 2011 Jun 12;13(7):771-8. doi: 10.1038/ncb2269.


The response of cells to forces is essential for tissue morphogenesis and homeostasis. This response has been extensively investigated in interphase cells, but it remains unclear how forces affect dividing cells. We used a combination of micro-manipulation tools on human dividing cells to address the role of physical parameters of the micro-environment in controlling the cell division axis, a key element of tissue morphogenesis. We found that forces applied on the cell body direct spindle orientation during mitosis. We further show that external constraints induce a polarization of dynamic subcortical actin structures that correlate with spindle movements. We propose that cells divide according to cues provided by their mechanical micro-environment, aligning daughter cells with the external force field.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism
  • Cell Adhesion*
  • Cell Polarity
  • Cell Shape
  • Fibronectins / metabolism
  • HeLa Cells
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Luminescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Mechanotransduction, Cellular*
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Microscopy, Video
  • Mitosis*
  • Morphogenesis
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Rotation
  • Spindle Apparatus / metabolism
  • Spindle Apparatus / physiology*
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Time Factors
  • Transfection


  • Actins
  • Fibronectins
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins