The nonionic detergent extraction at 4 °C and the cholesterol-depletion-induced lipid raft disruption are the two widely used experimental strategies for lipid raft research. However, the effects of raft disruption and/or cold treatment on the ultrastructural and mechanical properties of cells are still unclear. Here, we evaluated the effects of raft disruption and/or cold (4 °C) treatment on these properties of living human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). At first, the cholesterol-depletion-induced raft disruption was visualized by confocal microscopy and atomic force microscopy (AFM) in combination with fluorescent quantum dots. Next, the cold-induced cell contraction and the formation of end-branched filopodia were observed by confocal microscopy and AFM. Then, the cell-surface ultrastructures were imaged by AFM, and the data showed that raft disruption and cold treatment induced opposite effects on cell-surface roughness (a significant decrease and a significant increase, respectively). Moreover, the cell-surface mechanical properties (stiffness and adhesion force) of raft-disrupted- and/or cold-treated HUVECs were measured by the force measurement function of AFM. We found that raft disruption and cold treatment induced parallel effects on cell stiffness (increase) or adhesion force (decrease) and that the combination of the two treatments caused dramatically strengthened effects. Finally, raft disruption was found to significantly impair cell migration as previously reported, whereas temporary cold treatment only caused a slight but nonsignificant decrease in cell migration performed at physiological temperature. Although the mechanisms for causing these results might be complicated and more in-depth studies will be needed, our data may provide important information for better understanding the effects of raft disruption or cold treatment on cells and the two strategies for lipid raft research.
The Journal of Membrane Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 8, 2014
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