Cellular level robotic surgery: Nanodissection of intermediate filaments in live keratinocytes

Nanomedicine. 2015 Jan;11(1):137-45. doi: 10.1016/j.nano.2014.08.008. Epub 2014 Sep 6.


We present the nanosurgery on the cytoskeleton of live cells using AFM based nanorobotics to achieve adhesiolysis and mimic the effect of pathophysiological modulation of intercellular adhesion. Nanosurgery successfully severs the intermediate filament bundles and disrupts cell-cell adhesion similar to the desmosomal protein disassembly in autoimmune disease, or the cationic modulation of desmosome formation. Our nanomechanical analysis revealed that adhesion loss results in a decrease in cellular stiffness in both cases of biochemical modulation of the desmosome junctions and mechanical disruption of intercellular adhesion, supporting the notion that intercellular adhesion through intermediate filaments anchors the cell structure as focal adhesion does and that intermediate filaments are integral components in cell mechanical integrity. The surgical process could potentially help reveal the mechanism of autoimmune pathology-induced cell-cell adhesion loss as well as its related pathways that lead to cell apoptosis.

Keywords: Atomic Force Microscopy; Cell–cell adhesion; Desmosome; Intermediate filament; Mechanical property; Nanosurgery.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis
  • Autoimmune Diseases / metabolism
  • Cations
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Line
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Desmosomes / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Intermediate Filaments / chemistry*
  • Keratinocytes / cytology*
  • Microscopy, Atomic Force
  • Nanomedicine / methods*
  • Nanostructures
  • Robotics*
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Surgery, Computer-Assisted / methods*


  • Cations