REF52 fibroblasts have a well-developed contractile machinery, the most prominent elements of which are actomyosin stress fibers with highly ordered organization of actin and myosin IIA filaments. The relationship between contractile activity and turnover dynamics of stress fibers is not sufficiently understood. Here, we simultaneously measured the forces exerted by stress fibers (using traction force microscopy or micropillar array sensors) and the dynamics of actin and myosin (using photoconversion-based monitoring of actin incorporation and high-resolution fluorescence microscopy of myosin II light chain). Our data revealed new features of the crosstalk between myosin II-driven contractility and stress fiber dynamics. During normal stress fiber turnover, actin incorporated all along the stress fibers and not only at focal adhesions. Incorporation of actin into stress fibers/focal adhesions, as well as actin and myosin II filaments flow along stress fibers, strongly depends on myosin II activity. Myosin II-dependent generation of traction forces does not depend on incorporation of actin into stress fibers per se, but still requires formin activity. This previously overlooked function of formins in maintenance of the actin cytoskeleton connectivity could be the main mechanism of formin involvement in traction force generation.
Cell traction forces are measured together with visualization of actomyosin flow
Actin turnover depends on formin and myosin II activities
Traction forces depend not only on myosin II, but also on formins
Traction force generation may require formin-dependent cytoskeleton connectivity