, 238:23 | Cite as

Modeled microgravity causes changes in the cytoskeleton and focal adhesions, and decreases in migration in malignant human MCF-7 cells

  • Jing Li
  • Shu Zhang
  • Jun Chen
  • Tingyuan Du
  • Yongchun Wang
  • Zongren Wang
Original Article


Because cells are sensitive to mechanical forces, microgravity might act on stress-dependent cell changes. Regulation of focal adhesions (FAs) and cytoskeletal activity plays a role in cell maintenance, cell movement, and migration. Human MCF-7 cells were exposed to modeled microgravity (MMG) to test the hypothesis that migration responsiveness to microgravity is associated with cytoskeleton and FA anomalies. MMG acts on MCF-7 cells by disorganizing cytoskeleton filaments (microfilaments and microtubules). Microfilaments in MMG did not display their typical radial array. Likewise, microtubules were disrupted in MCF-7 cells within 4 h of initiation of MMG and were partly reestablished by 48 h. FAs generated in microgravity were less mature than those established in controls, shown by reduced FAs number and clustering. In parallel, MMG decreased kinases activity (such as FAK, PYK2, and ILK) of FAs in MCF-7 cells. The expression of both integrinβ1 and integrinβ4 were downregulated by MMG. We conclude that cytoskeletal alterations and FAs changes in MMG are concomitant with cell invasion and migration retardation. We suggest that reduced migration response in MCF-7 cells following MMG is linked to changes of cytoskeleton and FAs.


Modeled microgravity Migration Cytoskeleton Focal adhesions MCF-7 cells 



Modeled microgravity


Normal gravity


Focal adhesions


Extracellular matrix


Focal adhesion kinase


Proline-rich tyrosine kinase 2


Integrin-linked kinase


Mean vinculin spot number per cell


Mean vinculin spot area

Supplementary material

709_2009_68_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (286 kb)
Supplementary material(PDF 285 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jing Li
    • 1
  • Shu Zhang
    • 2
  • Jun Chen
    • 3
  • Tingyuan Du
    • 4
  • Yongchun Wang
    • 4
  • Zongren Wang
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Xijing HospitalFourth Military Medical UniversityXi’anPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.The Key Laboratory of Aerospace Medicine, Chinese Ministry of EducationFourth Military Medical UniversityXi’anPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Department of Acupuncture and MoxibustionTraditional Chinese Medicine University of Shaanxi ProvinceXianyangPeople’s Republic of China
  4. 4.Department of Aerospace Biodynamics, Faculty of Aerospace MedicineFourth Military Medical UniversityXi’anPeople’s Republic of China

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