Sophie Massou, Filipe Nunes Vicente, Franziska Wetzel, Amine Mehidi, Dan Strehle, Cecile Leduc, Raphaël Voituriez, Olivier Rossier, Pierre Nassoy, Grégory Giannone
Detection and conversion of mechanical forces into biochemical signals controls cell functions during physiological and pathological processes. Mechanosensing is based on protein deformations and reorganizations, yet the molecular mechanisms are still unclear. Using a cell-stretching device compatible with super-resolution microscopy and single-protein tracking, we explored the nanoscale deformations and reorganizations of individual proteins inside mechanosensitive structures. We achieved super-resolution microscopy after live stretching on intermediate filaments, microtubules and integrin adhesions. Simultaneous single-protein tracking and stretching showed that while integrins followed the elastic deformation of the substrate, actin filaments and talin also displayed lagged and transient inelastic responses associated with active acto-myosin remodelling and talin deformations. Capturing acute reorganizations of single molecules during stretching showed that force-dependent vinculin recruitment is delayed and depends on the maturation of integrin adhesions. Thus, cells respond to external forces by amplifying transiently and locally cytoskeleton displacements, enabling protein deformation and recruitment in mechanosensitive structures.