Force Measurements for Cancer Cells

  • Vivek Rajasekharan
  • Varun K. A. Sreenivasan
  • Brenda FarrellEmail author
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 1530)


During cytoskeleton remodeling, cancer cells generate force at the plasma membrane that originates from chemical motors (e.g., actin). This force (pN) and its time course reflect the on and off-rates of the motors. We describe the design and calibration of a force-measuring device (i.e., optical tweezers) that is used to monitor this force and its time course at the edge of a cell, with particular emphasis on the temporal resolution of the instrument.

Key words

Cell mobility Membrane tube Membrane force Filopodium Actin Cytoskeleton Motor kinetics Optical tweezers Time constant Noise of signal 



Research supported by NIH grants S10 RR027549-01, R21CA152779, and RO1DC00354 and by the Alliance for Nanohealth 1W81XWH-10-2-0125. We thank Dr. W. E. Brownell who contributed to the design of the instrument, and Dr T. Yuan who also contributed to the design helped assemble and collected the data shown in Fig. 3. We thank Dr. J. N. Myers for providing the HN-31 cancer cell line, and are grateful for discussions with Dr. F. A. Pereira.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vivek Rajasekharan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Varun K. A. Sreenivasan
    • 1
    • 3
  • Brenda Farrell
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Bobby R. Alford Department of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck SurgeryBaylor College of MedicineHoustonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Molecular and Cellular BiologyBaylor College of MedicineHoustonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Physics and AstronomyMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia

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