, Volume 456, Issue 1, pp 95-100
Date: 30 Jan 2008

Softening of the actin cytoskeleton by inhibition of myosin II


We have investigated the mechanical properties of fibroblast cells after adding the myosin inhibitor blebbistatin and the Rho-kinase inhibitor Y-27632 by atomic force microscopy (AFM). We have observed a decrease in the elastic modulus from a value of around 20 kPa down to a value around 8 kPa on a time scale of around 30–60 min when applying the myosin inhibitor blebbistatin, whereas the Y-27632 did not show any prominent mechanical effects. From topographic images, we can conclude that, after adding blebbistatin, actin filaments are not visible any more, whereas Y-27632 did not show any prominent effects in cell morphology. This study shows that tension generated by myosin contributes to the cellular stiffness and thus can be observed by measuring the elastic modulus of cells.