A single-cell correlative nanoelectromechanosensing approach to detect cancerous transformation: monitoring the function of F-actin microfilaments in the modulation of the ion channel activity†
Cancerous transformation may be dependent on correlation between electrical disruptions in the cell membrane and mechanical disruptions of cytoskeleton structures. Silicon nanotube (SiNT)-based electrical probes, as ultra-accurate signal recorders with subcellular resolution, may create many opportunities for fundamental biological research and biomedical applications. Here, we used this technology to electrically monitor cellular mechanosensing. The SiNT probe was combined with an electrically activated glass micropipette aspiration system to achieve a new cancer diagnostic technique that is based on real-time correlation between mechanical and electrical behaviour of single cells. Our studies demonstrated marked changes in the electrical response following increases in the mechanical aspiration force in healthy cells. In contrast, such responses were extremely weak for malignant cells. Confocal microscopy results showed the impact of actin microfilament remodelling on the reduction of the electrical response for aspirated cancer cells due to the significant role of actin in modulating the ion channel activity in the cell membrane.