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Induction of Focal Adhesions and Motility in Drosophila S2 cells

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Focal adhesions are dynamic structures that interact with the extracellular matrix on the cell exterior and actin filaments on the cell interior, enabling cells to adhere and crawl along surfaces. We describe a system for inducing the formation of focal adhesions in normally non-ECM-adherent, nonmotile Drosophila S2 cells. These focal adhesions contain the expected molecular markers such as talin, vinculin, and p130Cas, and they require talin for their formation. The S2 cells with induced focal adhesions also display a nonpolarized form of motility on vitronectin-coated substrates. Consistent with findings in mammalian cells, the degree of motility can be tuned by changing the stiffness of the substrate and was increased after the depletion of PAK3, a p21-activated kinase. A subset of nonmotile, nonpolarized cells also exhibited focal adhesions that rapidly assembled and disassembled around the cell perimeter. Such cooperative and dynamic fluctuations of focal adhesions were decreased by RNA interference (RNAi) depletion of myosin II and focal adhesion kinase, suggesting that this behavior requires force and focal adhesion maturation. These results demonstrate that S2 cells, a cell line that is well studied for cytoskeletal dynamics and readily amenable to protein manipulation by RNAi, can be used to study the assembly and dynamics of focal adhesions and mechanosensitive cell motility.

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