Abstract 

Cell motility is driven by the sum of asymmetric traction forces exerted on the substrate through adhesion foci that interface with the actin cytoskeleton. Establishment of this asymmetry involves microtubules, which exert a destabilising effect on adhesion foci via targeting events. Here, we demonstrate the existence of a mechano-sensing mechanism that signals microtubule polymerisation and guidance of the microtubules towards adhesion sites under increased stress. Stress was applied either by manipulating the body of cells moving on glass with a microneedle or by stretching a flexible substrate that cells were migrating on. We propose a model for this mechano-sensing phenomenon whereby microtubule polymerisation is stimulated and guided through the interaction of a microtubule tip complex with actin filaments under tension.