Programmable and Reversible Integrin-Mediated Cell Adhesion Reveals Hysteresis in Actin Kinetics that Alters Subsequent Mechanotransduction

Zheng Zhang, Hongyuan Zhu, Guoqing Zhao, Yunyi Miao, Lingzhu Zhao, Jinteng Feng, Huan Zhang, Run Miao, Lin Sun, Bin Gao, Wencheng Zhang, Zheng Wang, Jianfang Zhang, Ying Zhang, Hui Guo, Feng Xu, Tian Jian Lu, Guy M. Genin, Min Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dynamically evolving adhesions between cells and extracellular matrix (ECM) transmit time-varying signals that control cytoskeletal dynamics and cell fate. Dynamic cell adhesion and ECM stiffness regulate cellular mechanosensing cooperatively, but it has not previously been possible to characterize their individual effects because of challenges with controlling these factors independently. Therefore, a DNA-driven molecular system is developed wherein the integrin-binding ligand RGD can be reversibly presented and removed to achieve cyclic cell attachment/detachment on substrates of defined stiffness. Using this culture system, it is discovered that cyclic adhesion accelerates F-actin kinetics and nuclear mechanosensing in human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs), with the result that hysteresis can completely change how hMSCs transduce ECM stiffness. Results are dramatically different from well-known results for mechanotransduction on static substrates, but are consistent with a mathematical model of F-actin fragments retaining structure following loss of integrin ligation and participating in subsequent repolymerization. These findings suggest that cyclic integrin-mediated adhesion alters the mechanosensing of ECM stiffness by hMSCs through transient, hysteretic memory that is stored in F-actin.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2302421
JournalAdvanced Science
Issue number35
StatePublished - Dec 15 2023


  • actin alignment
  • cell adhesion
  • mechanical memory
  • mechanical microenvironment
  • mechanotransduction


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