MT1-MMP directs force-producing proteolytic contacts that drive tumor cell invasion
AbstractUnraveling the mechanisms that govern the formation and function of invadopodia is essential towards the prevention of cancer spread. Here, we characterize the ultrastructural organization, dynamics and mechanical properties of collagenotytic invadopodia forming at the interface between breast cancer cells and a physiologic fibrillary type I collagen matrix. Our study highlights an uncovered role for MT1-MMP in directing invadopodia assembly independent of its proteolytic activity. Electron microscopy analysis reveals a polymerized Arp2/3 actin network at the concave side of the curved invadopodia in association with the collagen fibers. Actin polymerization is shown to produce pushing forces that repel the confining matrix fibers, and requires MT1-MMP matrix-degradative activity to widen the matrix pores and generate the invasive pathway. A theoretical model is proposed whereby pushing forces result from actin assembly and frictional forces in the actin meshwork due to the curved geometry of the matrix fibers that counterbalance resisting forces by the collagen fibers.