The shape of the cell nucleus can vary considerably during developmental and pathological processes; however, the impact of nuclear morphology on cell behavior is not known. Here, we observed that the nuclear envelope flattens as cells transit from G1 to S phase and inhibition of myosin II prevents nuclear flattening and impedes progression to S phase. Strikingly, we show that applying compressive force on the nucleus in the absence of myosin II-mediated tension is sufficient to restore G1 to S transition. Using a combination of tools to manipulate nuclear morphology, we observed that nuclear flattening activates a subset of transcription factors, including TEAD and AP1, leading to transcriptional induction of target genes that promote G1 to S transition. In addition, we found that nuclear flattening mediates TEAD and AP1 activation in response to ROCK-generated contractility or cell spreading. Our results reveal that the nuclear envelope can operate as a mechanical sensor whose deformation controls cell growth in response to tension.
Keywords: TEAD; AP1; c-Jun; mechanotransduction; nuclear envelope.
© 2019 The Authors. Published under the terms of the CC BY 4.0 license.