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The desmin network is a determinant of the cytoplasmic stiffness of myoblasts

Abstract : Background InformationThe mechanical properties of cells are essential to maintain their proper functions, and mainly rely on their cytoskeleton. A lot of attention has been paid to actin filaments, demonstrating their central role in the cells mechanical properties, but much less is known about the participation of intermediate filament (IF) networks. Indeed the contribution of IFs, such as vimentin, keratins and lamins, to cell mechanics has only been assessed recently. We study here the involvement of desmin, an IF specifically expressed in muscle cells, in the rheology of immature muscle cells. Desmin can carry mutations responsible for a class of muscle pathologies named desminopathies. ResultsIn this study, using three types of cell rheometers, we assess the consequences of expressing wild-type (WT) or mutated desmin on the rheological properties of single myoblasts. We find that the mechanical properties of the cell cortex are not correlated to the quantity, nor the quality of desmin expressed. On the contrary, the overall cell stiffness increases when the amount of WT or mutated desmin polymerised in cytoplasmic networks increases. However, myoblasts become softer when the desmin network is partially depleted by the formation of aggregates induced by the expression of a desmin mutant. ConclusionsWe demonstrate that desmin plays a negligible role in the mechanical properties of the cell cortex but is a determinant of the overall cell stiffness. More particularly, desmin participates to the cytoplasm viscoelasticity. SignificanceDesminopathies are associated with muscular weaknesses attributed to a disorganisation of the structure of striated muscle that impairs the active force generation. The present study evidences for the first time the key role of desmin in the rheological properties of myoblasts, raising the hypothesis that desmin mutations could also alter the passive mechanical properties of muscles, thus participating to the lack of force build up in muscle tissue.
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Contributor : Colette Orange <>
Submitted on : Monday, January 11, 2021 - 10:14:09 AM
Last modification on : Wednesday, January 13, 2021 - 3:25:09 AM



Ee Charrier, L Montel, A Asnacios, F Delort, P Vicart, et al.. The desmin network is a determinant of the cytoplasmic stiffness of myoblasts. Biology of the Cell, Wiley, 2018, 110 (4), pp.77-90. ⟨10.1111/boc.201700040⟩. ⟨hal-03105444⟩



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