Zyxin Is involved in fibroblast rigidity sensing and durotaxis

Ai Kia Yip, Songjing Zhang, Lor Huai Chong, Elsie Cheruba, Jessie Yong Xing Woon, Theng Xuan Chua, Corinna Jie Hui Goh, Haibo Yang, Chor Yong Tay, Cheng-Gee Koh, Keng-Hwee Chiam

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6 Citations (Scopus)


Focal adhesions (FAs) are specialized structures that enable cells to sense their extracellular matrix rigidity and transmit these signals to the interior of the cells, bringing about actin cytoskeleton reorganization, FA maturation, and cell migration. It is known that cells migrate towards regions of higher substrate rigidity, a phenomenon known as durotaxis. However, the underlying molecular mechanism of durotaxis and how different proteins in the FA are involved remain unclear. Zyxin is a component of the FA that has been implicated in connecting the actin cytoskeleton to the FA. We have found that knocking down zyxin impaired NIH3T3 fibroblast’s ability to sense and respond to changes in extracellular matrix in terms of their FA sizes, cell traction stress magnitudes and F-actin organization. Cell migration speed of zyxin knockdown fibroblasts was also independent of the underlying substrate rigidity, unlike wild type fibroblasts which migrated fastest at an intermediate substrate rigidity of 14 kPa. Wild type fibroblasts exhibited durotaxis by migrating toward regions of increasing substrate rigidity on polyacrylamide gels with substrate rigidity gradient, while zyxin knockdown fibroblasts did not exhibit durotaxis. Therefore, we propose zyxin as an essential protein that is required for rigidity sensing and durotaxis through modulating FA sizes, cell traction stress and F-actin organization.

Original languageEnglish
Article number735298
Number of pages10
JournalFrontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2021


  • durotaxis
  • focal adhesion
  • mechanotransduction
  • rigidity sensing
  • zyxin

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