Force-induced recruitment of cten along keratin network in epithelial cells

Joleen S. Cheah, Kyle A. Jacobs, Volkmar Heinrich, Su Hao Lo, Soichiro Yamada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The cytoskeleton provides structural integrity to cells and serves as a key component in mechanotransduction. Tensins are thought to provide a force-bearing linkage between integrins and the actin cytoskeleton; yet, direct evidence of tensin’s role in mechanotransduction is lacking. We here report that local force application to epithelial cells using a micrometer-sized needle leads to rapid accumulation of cten (tensin 4), but not tensin 1, along a fibrous intracellular network. Surprisingly, cten-positive fibers are not actin fibers; instead, these fibers are keratin intermediate filaments. The dissociation of cten from tension-free keratin fibers depends on the duration of cell stretch, demonstrating that the external force favors maturation of cten−keratin network interactions over time and that keratin fibers retain remarkable structural memory of a cell’s force-bearing state. These results establish the keratin network as an integral part of force-sensing elements recruiting distinct proteins like cten and suggest the existence of a mechanotransduction pathway via keratin network.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19799-19801
Number of pages3
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number40
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019


  • Cytoskeleton
  • Keratin
  • Mechanotransduction
  • Simple epithelia
  • Tensin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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