Tissue and cellular stiffening is associated with pathologies including fibrosis and cancer. Healthy cells also exhibit a wide range of membrane cortical tensions, which have been studied in the field of mechanobiology. Here, we quantify the mechanosensitivity of the lysis agent the di-rhamnolipid (RHA), which is a bacterially produced biosurfactant. RHA exhibited selective lysis correlated strongly with cortical membrane tension in osteoblasts, smooth muscle cells, fibroblasts, epithelial cells, and erythrocytes. Reducing cortical membrane tension by cytoskeleton inhibitors (cytochalasin D and nocodazole) or osmotic regulators (sucrose, polyethylene glycol, and nonionic surfactants) attenuated the RHA toxicity. The selective toxicity of RHA toward human chronic myeloid leukemia K562 cells over healthy blood cells suggests a potential therapy for blood cancer. Targeted killing of myofibroblasts transformed from either fibroblasts or epithelial cells indicates its antifibrotic effect. Combined, these studies showed the potential for specific targeting of cells with differential mechanical properties rather than chemical or biological pathways.
About The Expert
Kris Noel Dahl