Rho/ROCK mechanosensor in adipocyte stiffness and traction force generation

Tasneem Bouzid, Amir Monemian Esfahani, Bahareh Tajvidi Safa, Eunju Kim, Viswanathan Saraswathi, Jason K. Kim, Ruiguo Yang, Jung Yul Lim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


It is increasingly recognized that interaction of adipose cells with extracellular mechanophysical milieus may play a role in regulating adipogenesis and differentiated adipocyte function and such interaction can be mediated by the mechanics of adipose cells. We measured the stiffness and traction force of adipose cells and examined the role of Rho/ROCK, the upstream effector of actin cytoskeletal contractility, in affecting these mechanical properties. Cellular Young's modulus obtained from atomic force microscopy (AFM) was significantly reduced by ROCK inhibitor (Y-27632) but elevated by Rho activator (CN01), for both preadipocytes and differentiated adipocytes. Immunofluorescent imaging suggested this could be attributed to the changes in Rho/ROCK-induced stressed actin filament formation. AFM also confirmed that differentiated adipocytes had higher stiffness than preadipocytes. On the other hand, traction force microscopy (TFM) revealed differentiated adipocytes exerted lower traction forces than preadipocytes. Traction forces of both preadipocytes and adipocytes were decreased by ROCK inhibition, but not significantly altered by Rho activation. Notably, an increasing trend of traction force with respect to cell spreading area was detected, and this trend was substantially amplified by Rho activation. Such traction force-cell area correlation was an order-of-magnitude smaller for differentiated adipocytes relative to preadipocytes, potentially due to disrupted force transmission through cytoskeleton-focal adhesion linkage by lipid droplets. Our work provides new data evidencing the Rho/ROCK control in adipose cell mechanics, laying the groundwork for adipocyte mechanotransduction studies on adipogenesis and adipose tissue remodeling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42-48
Number of pages7
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
StatePublished - May 28 2022


  • Adipocyte
  • Mechanotransduction
  • Rho/ROCK
  • Traction force
  • Young's modulus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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