AFM study: Cell cycle and probe geometry influences nanomechanical characterization of Panc1 cells

Tanmay Kulkarni, Alex Tam, Debabrata Mukhopadhyay, Santanu Bhattacharya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Atomic force microscope (AFM) is emerging as an immensely promising tool to study the cellular morphology with a nanometer scale resolution and to analyze nanomechanical properties (NPs) at various physiological conditions. Advancement of AFM technology enables studying living cells and differentiating cancer cell from normal cells based on topography and NPs. Though the trend overlaps from different literature; numerical values of nanomechanical readouts depict variations over a wide range. These anomalies are associated with the experimental setup under study. In this manuscript, we have identified heterogeneity in cell culture system in addition to the selection of AFM probe with specific tip geometry as the major contributors to the above mentioned anomalies. To test our hypothesis, we have used Panc1 cells, which is a pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma cell type. Our results suggest that the cellular morphology, membrane roughness and NPs calculated from AFM study are distinctly influenced by cell cycle. Furthermore, we found that the NPs readout is also significantly associated with AFM tip geometries. The cells were found to be softer in their early resting phase when indented with pyramidal probe and became increasingly stiffer as they progressed through the cell cycles. On the contrary, when indented with the spherical probe, cells in G0/G1 phase were observed to be the stiffest. Such an exhaustive study of the role of cell cycle in influencing the NPs in Panc1 cell line along with the impact of tip geometry on NPs is the first of its kind, to the best of our knowledge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)802-812
Number of pages11
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - General Subjects
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2019


  • Atomic force microscopy
  • Cell cycle
  • Nanoindentation
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Young's modulus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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