Cell shape, cytoskeletal mechanics, and cell cycle control in angiogenesis

Donald E. Ingber, Deepa Prusty, Zhengqi Sun, Hannah Betensky, Ning Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Capillary endothelial cells can be switched between growth and differentiation by altering cell-extracellular matrix interactions and thereby, modulating cell shape. Studies were carried out to determine when cell shape exerts its growth-regulatory influence during cell cycle progression and to explore the role of cytoskeletal structure and mechanics in this control mechanism. When G0-synchronized cells were cultured in basic fibroblast growth factor (FGF)-containing defined medium on dishes coated with increasing densities of fibronectin or a synthetic integrin ligand (RGD-containing peptide), cell spreading, nuclear extension, and DNA synthesis all increased in parallel. To determine the minimum time cells must be adherent and spread on extracellular matrix (ECM) to gain entry into S phase, cells were removed with trypsin or induced to retract using cytochalasin D at different times after plating. Both approaches revealed that cells must remain extended for approximately 12-15 h and hence, most of G1, in order to enter S phase. After this restriction point was passed, normally 'anchorage-dependent' endothelial cells turned on DNA synthesis even when round and in suspension. The importance of actin-containing microfilaments in shape-dependent growth control was confirmed by culturing cells in the presence of cytochalasin D (25-1000 ng ml-1): dose-dependent inhibition of cell spreading, nuclear extension, and DNA synthesis resulted. In contrast, induction of microtubule disassembly using nocodazole had little effect on cell or nuclear spreading and only partially inhibited DNA synthesis. Interestingly, combination of nocodazole with a suboptimal dose of cytochalasin D (100 ng ml-1) resulted in potent inhibition of both spreading and growth, suggesting that microtubules are redundant structural elements which can provide critical load-bearing functions when microfilaments are partially compromised. Similar synergism between nocodazole and cytochalasin D was observed when cytoskeletal stiffness was measured directly in living cells using magnetic twisting cytometry. These results emphasize the importance of matrix-dependent changes in cell and nuclear shape as well as higher order structural interactions between different cytoskeletal filament systems for control of capillary cell growth during angiogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1471-1484
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • DNA synthesis
  • Growth
  • Integrins
  • Mechanical stress
  • Microfilaments
  • Microtubules
  • Nuclear shape
  • Tensegrity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Rehabilitation
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biophysics


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