Biomedical Research Foundation Academy Of AthensAcademy Of Athens
Research Highlights :Genetic Studies in Flies Shed New Light on How Cells Modulate their Adhesion Properties when Exposed to Physical Forces

Researchers from the Center of Basic Research at the Biomedical Research Foundation, Academy of Athens and the University of Patras have uncovered a molecular mechanism that allows cells to stick together. Their findings were published on March 22 in the scientific journal Cell Reports. The work was funded by the French Muscular Dystrophy Association (AFM-Téléthon) and Fondation Santé.

Dr Christos Zervas, lead author of the paper explains: “Our cells experience physical forces much in the same way that our bodies do. An intuitive cellular machinery translates nanoforces to specific molecular changes. Ultimately, when cells sense tension from physical forces they hold tight together and make it possible for tissues to function healthily as a group. In the occurrence of certain diseases, however, our cells lose their adhesive properties and, as a result, either get dissociated (as in the case of muscular dystrophies), or travel away from their original location (as in the case of cancer metastasis). Through our studies, we gain a new insight of the cellular mechanosensing machinery that helps to better understand the way our body develops and remains healthy”.

Katerina Vakaloglou, first author of the paper further explains her findings: “Cells are glued on the surrounding extracellular matrix by a specific class of surface proteins, called integrins. These are molecules that form adhesion contact sites by connecting the extracellular matrix with the cytoskeleton inside the cell. The connection is mediated by a complex network of several different proteins each with a particular function. By combining genetic analysis and live imaging in the Drosophila model, we found that ILK, Parvin and PINCH -three highly conserved proteins comprising the IPP complex- can sense forces and act as a switch that restrains integrin trafficking. So in essence, the IPP complex safeguards the number of integrin molecules that bind to extracellular matrix and strengthens cell adhesion".


This finding has numerous implications for several biological processes in both development and disease, ranging from cancer to muscle and cardiac function. Dilated cardiomyopathy is an example of heart disease associated with mutations in the human ILK gene. Hence, the studies by Vakaloglou et al provide novel information on how cellular behavior adapts to physical stress in order to maintain tissue integrity and homeostasis.



Citation of the article:
IPP Complex Reinforces Adhesion by Relaying Tension-Dependent Signals to Inhibit Integrin Turnover.
Vakaloglou KM, Chrysanthis G, Zervas CG.
Cell Rep. 2016 Mar 22;14(11):2668-82. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2016.02.052. Epub 2016 Mar 10.

For more information, contact Christos Zervas (