STICCS reveals matrix-dependent adhesion slipping and gripping in migrating cells

Biophys J. 2012 Oct 17;103(8):1672-82. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2012.08.060. Epub 2012 Oct 16.


Two-color spatio-temporal image cross-correlation spectroscopy (STICCS) is a new, to our knowledge, image analysis method that calculates space-time autocorrelation and cross-correlation functions from fluorescence intensity fluctuations. STICCS generates cellular flow and diffusion maps that reveal interactions and cotransport of two distinct molecular species labeled with different fluorophores. Here we use computer simulations to map the capabilities and limitations of STICCS for measurements in complex heterogeneous environments containing micro- and macrostructures. We then use STICCS to analyze the co-flux of adhesion components in migrating cells imaged using total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy. The data reveal a robust, time-dependent co-fluxing of certain integrins and paxillin in adhesions in protrusions when they pause, and in adhesions that are sliding and disassembling, demonstrating that the molecules in these adhesions move as a complex. In these regions, both α6β1- or αLβ2-integrins, expressed in CHO.B2 cells, co-flux with paxillin; an analogous cotransport was seen for α6β1-integrin and α-actinin in U2OS. This contrasts with the behavior of the α5β1-integrin and paxillin, which do not co-flux. Our results clearly show that integrins can move in complexes with adhesion proteins in protrusions that are retracting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actinin / metabolism
  • Animals
  • CHO Cells
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Movement*
  • Cricetinae
  • Cricetulus
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Integrins / metabolism
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Paxillin / metabolism
  • Spectrometry, Fluorescence / methods*


  • Integrins
  • Paxillin
  • Actinin