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Mechanical regulation of cell substrates effects stem cell development, adhesion
Date:8/1/2010

Using current methods, it was not possible to change surface rigidity without also affecting other cellular properties such as the amount of active ligand molecules presented to cells, making it difficult to tease out the precise contributions of rigidity to cellular behavior.

Prior techniques employed the culture of cells on hydrogels derived from natural extracellular matrix proteins at different densities; however, changing densities of the gels impacted not only mechanical rigidity but also the amount of the binding or signaling ligand, leaving uncertainty as to the relevant contribution of these two matrix properties on the observed cellular response. Other synthetic hydrogels have been used that can vary rigidity without altering ligand density, but such systems cannot separate whether cells are sensing flexibility of individual molecules or of the macroscale mechanics.

"Although hydrogels will continue to be important in characterizing and controlling cell-material interactions, alternative approaches are necessary to understand how cells sense changes in substrate rigidity," Chen said.

In the body, cells do not exist in isolation but are in constant contact with other cells and with the extracellular matrix, providing structural support as well as both molecular and mechanical signals. In prior research, Chen's team has demonstrated that the push and pull of cellular forces drives the buckling, extension and contraction of cells during tissue development. These processes ultimately shape the architecture of tissues and play an important role in coordinating cell signaling, gene expression and behavior, and they are essential for wound healing and tissue homeostasis in adult organisms.


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Contact: Jordan Reese
jreese@upenn.edu
215-573-6604
University of Pennsylvania
Source:Eurekalert  

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