Tissue Stretch Induces Nuclear Remodeling in Connective Tissue Fibroblasts

Helene Langevin, Kristen Storch, Robert Snapp, Nicole Bouffard, Gary Badger, Alan Howe and Douglas Taatjes


Studies in cultured cells have shown that nuclear shape is an important factor influencing nuclear function, and that mechanical forces applied to the cell can directly affect nuclear shape. In a previous study, we demonstrated that stretching of whole mouse subcutaneous tissue causes dynamic cytoskeletal remodeling with perinuclear redistribution of α-actin in fibroblasts within the tissue. We have further shown that the nuclei of these fibroblasts have deep invaginations containing α-actin. In the current study, we hypothesized that tissue stretch would cause nuclear remodeling with a reduced amount of nuclear invagination, measurable as a change in nuclear concavity. Subcutaneous areolar connective tissue samples were excised from 28 mice and randomized to either tissue stretch or no stretch for 30 minutes, then examined with histochemistry and confocal microscopy. In stretched tissue (vs. non-stretched), fibroblast nuclei had a larger cross sectional area (p<.001), smaller thickness (p<.03) in the plane of the tissue, and smaller relative concavity (p<.005) indicating an increase in nuclear convexity. The stretch-induced loss of invaginations may have important influences on gene expression, RNA trafficking and/or cell differentiation.

Ref: Histochem Cell Biol. 2010 Apr; 133(4): 405–415.