Structural analysis of healthy and cancerous epithelial-type breast cells by nanomechanical spectroscopy allows us to obtain peculiarities of the skeleton and junctions†
The transition of healthy epithelial cells to carcinoma is associated with an alteration in the structure and organization of the cytoskeleton of the cells. A comparison of the mechanical properties of cancerous and healthy cells indicated a higher deformability of the cancer cells based on averaging the mechanical properties of single cells. However, the exact reason for softening of the cancerous cells compared to their counterparts remains unclear. Here, we focused on nanomechanical spectroscopy of healthy and cancerous ductal epithelial-type breast cells by means of atomic force microscopy with high lateral and depth precision. As a result, based on atomic force microscopy measurements formation of significantly fewer microtubules in cancerous cells which was observed in our study is most likely one of the main causes for the overall change in mechanical properties without any phenotypic shift. Strikingly, in a confluent layer of invasive ductal carcinoma cells, we observed the formation of cell–cell junctions that have the potential for signal transduction among neighboring cells such as desmosomes and adherens junctions. This increases the possibility of cancerous cell collaboration in malignancy, infiltration or metastasis phenomena.