Intracellular stress transmission through actin stress fiber network in adherent vascular cells

S. Deguchi, T. Ohashi, M. Sato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Intracellular stress transmission through subcellular structural components has been proposed to affect activation of localized mechano-sensing sites such as focal adhesions in adherent cells. Previous studies reported that physiological extracellular forces produced heterogeneous spatial distributions of cytoplasmic strain. However, mechanical signaling pathway involved in intracellular force transmission through basal actin stress fibers (SFs), a mechano-responsive cytoskeletal structure, remains elusive. In the present study, we investigated force balance within the basal SFs of cultured smooth muscle cells and endothelial cells by (i) removing the cell membrane and cytoplasmic constituents except for materials physically attaching to the substrate (i.e., SF-focal adhesion complexities) or (ii) dislodging either mechanically or chemically the cell processes of the cells expressing fluorescent proteins-labeled actin and focal adhesions in order to examine stress-release-induced deformation of the basal SFs. The result showed that a removal of mechanical restrictions for SFs resulted in a decrease in the length of the remaining SFs, which means SFs bear tension. In addition, a release of the preexisting tension in a single SF was transmitted to another SF physically linked to the former, but not transmitted to the other ones physically independent of the former, suggesting that the prestress is balanced in tensed SF networks. These results support a hypothesis regarding cell structural architecture that physiological extracellular forces can produce in the basal SF network a directional intracellular stress or strain distribution. Therefore, consideration of the coexistence of the directional stretching strain along the axial direction of SFs and the heterogeneous strain in the other cytoplasmic region will be essential for understanding intracellular stress transmission in the adherent cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-216
Number of pages12
JournalMCB Molecular and Cellular Biomechanics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2005 Dec 1


  • Endothelial cell
  • Intracellular stress
  • Mechanotransduction
  • Smooth muscle cell
  • Stress fiber

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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