Mechanotransduction of Subcellular AMPK and Its Role in Breast Cancer Cell Migration

Hannah E Steele, Purdue University


The biophysical microenvironment of the tumor site has significant impact on breast cancer progression and metastasis. The importance of altered mechanotransduction in cancerous tissue through the integrin-mediated signaling axis has been documented, yet its role in the regulation of cellular metabolism and the potential link between cellular energy and cell migration remain poorly understood. In this study, we investigated the role of mechanotransduction (via Src and FAK) in AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) activation in breast cancer cells in response to interstitial fluid flow. Additionally, we explored the involvement of AMPK in breast cancer cell migration. An in-vitro three-dimensional (3D) cell culture model utilizing collagen-Matrigel matrices was used. Interstitial fluid flow was applied to the 3D cell-matrix construct inside a flow chamber. The sub-cellular signaling activity of Src, FAK, and AMPK was visualized in real-time using fluorescent resonance energy transfer (FRET). We observed that breast cancer cells (MDA-MB-231) are more sensitive to interstitial fluid flow than normal epithelial cells (MCF-10A) in the regulation of FAK and Src. AMPK was activated in the mitochondria of MDA-MB-231 cells by interstitial fluid flow, but not in other subcellular domains (i.e., cytosol, plasma membrane, and nucleus). Subcellular AMPK in MCF-10A cells did not respond to interstitial fluid flow. The inhibition of FAK or Src abolished flow-induced AMPK activation in the mitochondria of MDA-MB-231 cells. We also observed that global AMPK activation reduced MDA-MB-231 cell migration. Interestingly, specific AMPK inhibition in the mitochondria reduced cell migration and blocked interstitial fluid flow-induced cell migration. Our results suggest the linkage of FAK/Src and mitochondria-specific AMPK in mechanotransduction and the dual role of AMPK in breast cancer cell migration depending on its subcellular activation. Therefore, subcellular AMPK activation may play an important and distinct role in cancer invasion and progression.




Na, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Biomedical engineering|Cellular biology

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