Curvotaxis directs cell migration through cell-scale curvature landscapes

  • Pieuchot Laurent
  • Marteau Julie
  • Guignandon Alain
  • dos Santos Thomas
  • Brigaud Isabelle
  • Chauvy Pierre-Francois
  • Cloatre Thomas
  • Ponche Arnaud
  • Petithory Tatiana
  • Rougerie Pablo
  • Vassaux Maxime
  • Milan Jean-Louis
  • Wakhloo Nayana Tusamda
  • Spangenberg Arnaud
  • Bigerelle Maxence
  • Anselme Karine

  • Biomaterials
  • Cell migration


Cells have evolved multiple mechanisms to apprehend and adapt finely to their environment. Here we report a new cellular ability, which we term ``curvotaxis'' that enables the cells to respond to cell-scale curvature variations, a ubiquitous trait of cellular biotopes. We develop ultra-smooth sinusoidal surfaces presenting modulations of curvature in all directions, and monitor cell behavior on these topographic landscapes. We show that adherent cells avoid convex regions during their migration and position themselves in concave valleys. Live imaging combined with functional analysis shows that curvotaxis relies on a dynamic interplay between the nucleus and the cytoskeleton-the nucleus acting as a mechanical sensor that leads the migrating cell toward concave curvatures. Further analyses show that substratum curvature affects focal adhesions organization and dynamics, nuclear shape, and gene expression. Altogether, this work identifies curvotaxis as a new cellular guiding mechanism and promotes cell-scale curvature as an essential physical cue.