The fundamental study of the adhesion of cells to each other or to a substrate is a key research topic in cellular biophysics because cell adhesion is important to many biological processes. We report on the adhesion of a model cell, a liposome, and a living HeLa cell to a substrate measured with a novel experimental technique. The cells are held at the end of a micropipette mounted on a micromanipulator and brought into contact with a surface. The adhesion energy and membrane tension are measured directly using the deflection of the micropipette when binding or unbinding the cell from the substrate. Since the force applied on the cells is known throughout the experiment, the technique presented enables the measurement of dynamics such as changes in the adhesion, elasticity, and membrane tension with time.
87.16.D- Membranes, bilayers, and vesicles 87.17.Rt Cell adhesion and cell mechanics 87.15.La Mechanical properties 87.61.Ff Instrumentation