Nanoscale Topography-Rigidity Correlation at the Surface of T Cells

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The mechanical properties of cells affect their function, in sensing, development, and motility. However, the rigidity of the cell surface and its correlation to its local topography remain poorly understood. Here, we applied quantitative imaging AFM to capture high-resolution force maps at the surface of nonadherent T cells. Using this method, we found a positive topography-rigidity correlation at the cells' surface, as opposed to a negative correlation at the surface of adherent cells. We then used 3D single-molecule localization microscopy of the membrane and cortical actin and an actin-perturbing drug to implicate actin involvement in the positive rigidity-topography correlation in T cells. Our results clearly reveal the variability of cell-surface rigidity and its underlying mechanism, showing a functional role for cortical actin in the PM protrusions of T cells, since they are locally more rigid than their surroundings. These findings suggest the possible functional role of membrane protrusions as mechanosensors.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)346-356
Number of pages11
JournalACS Nano
Issue number1
StatePublished - 22 Jan 2019


  • elastography
  • microvilli
  • quantitative imaging
  • rigidity
  • topography

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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