eCM (Eur Cell Mater / e Cells & Materials) Not-for-profit Open Access
Created by Scientists, for Scientists
 ISSN:1473-2262         NLM:100973416 (link)         DOI:10.22203/eCM

2002   Volume No 3 - pages 31-45

Title: Cell fitting to adhesive surfaces: A prerequisite to firm attachment and subsequent events

Authors: A Pierres, A. M. Benoliel and P. Bongrand

Address: INSERM U 387, Laboratoire d'Immunologie, H˘pital de Sainte-Marguerite, Marseille, France

E-mail: bongrand at

Key Words: Alignment, cell mechanics, cytoskeleton, interference-reflection microscopy, spreading.

Publication date: 30th June 2002

Abstract: Cell adhesion usually involves extensive shape reorganization. This process is important because i) it is required for efficient cross-linking of interacting surfaces by adhesion receptors the length of which does not exceed several tens of nanometers and ii) it influences subsequent cell differentiation and activation. This review focuses on the initial phase of cell deformation, preceding the extensive reorganization process known as spreading. This first phase includes local flattening at the micrometer scale and membrane alignment at the nanometer level, resulting in fitting of the cell to an adhesive surface. Three main points are considered. First, experimental methods available to study cell apposition to a surface are described, with an emphasis on interference reflection microscopy. Second, selected experimental evidence is presented to show that there is a quantitative relationship between "adhesiveness" and "contact extension", and some theoretical models aimed at relating these parameters are briefly sketched. Third, experimental data on the kinetics of initial contact extension are described and possible mechanisms for driving this extension are discussed, including nonspecific forces, receptor-mediated interactions, active cell movements or passive membrane fluctuations. It is concluded that both passive physical phenomena and random active cell movements are possible candidates for the initial triggering of contact extension.

Article download: Pages 31-45 (PDF file)
DOI: 10.22203/eCM.v003a04