Cell-stiffness-induced mechanosignaling - a key driver of leukocyte transendothelial migration

Antje Schaefer*, Peter L. Hordijk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/Letter to the editorAcademic


The breaching of cellular and structural barriers by migrating cells is a driving factor in development, inflammation and tumor cell metastasis. One of the most extensively studied examples is the extravasation of activated leukocytes across the vascular endothelium, the inner lining of blood vessels. Each step of this leukocyte transendothelial migration (TEM) process is regulated by distinct endothelial adhesion receptors such as the intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM1). Adherent leukocytes exert force on these receptors, which sense mechanical cues and transform them into localized mechanosignaling in endothelial cells. In turn, the function of the mechanoreceptors is controlled by the stiffness of the endothelial cells and of the underlying substrate representing a positive-feedback loop. In this Commentary, we focus on the mechanotransduction in leukocytes and endothelial cells, which is induced in response to variations in substrate stiffness. Recent studies have described the first key proteins involved in these mechanosensitive events, allowing us to identify common regulatory mechanisms in both cell types. Finally, we discuss how endothelial cell stiffness controls the individual steps in the leukocyte TEM process.We identify endothelial cell stiffness as an important component, in addition to locally presented chemokines and adhesion receptors, which guides leukocytes to sites that permit TEM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2221-2230
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Cell Science
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015

Cite this