We report the establishment of a library of micromolded elastomeric micropost arrays to modulate substrate rigidity independently of effects on adhesive and other material surface properties. We demonstrate that micropost rigidity impacts cell morphology, focal adhesions, cytoskeletal contractility, and stem cell differentiation. Furthermore, early changes in cytoskeletal contractility predicted later stem cell fate decisions at the single cell level.Cell function is regulated primarily by extracellular stimuli, including soluble and adhesive factors that bind to cell surface receptors. Recent evidence suggests that mechanical properties of the extracellular matrix (ECM), particularly rigidity, can also mediate cell signaling, proliferation, differentiation, and migration 1,2 . Culturing cells on hydrogels derived from natural ECM proteins at different densities has dramatic effects on cell adhesion, morphology, and function 3 . However, changing densities of the gels impacts not only mechanical rigidity, but also the amount of ligand, leaving uncertainty as to the relevant contribution of these two matrix properties on the observed cellular response. Synthetic ECM analogs such as polyacrylamide or polyethylene glycol gels, which vary rigidity by modulating the amount of cross-linker, has revealed that substrate rigidity alone can modulate many cellular functions, including stem cell differentiation 4-6 . However, altered cross-linker amount impacts not only bulk mechanics, but also molecular-scale material properties including porosity, surface chemistry, backbone flexibility, and binding properties of immobilized adhesive ligands 7,8 . Consequently, whether cells transduce substrate rigidity at the microscopic scale (eg sensing the rigidity between adhesion sites) or the nanoscopic scale (eg sensing local alterations in receptor-ligand binding characteristics) remains an open question 7,8 . While hydrogels will continue to play a major role in characterizing and controlling cell-material interactions, alternative approaches are necessary to further elucidate the basis by which cells sense changes in substrate rigidity.
Cells from many different tissues sense the stiffness and spatial patterning of their microenvironment to modulate their shape and cortical stiffness. It is currently unknown how substrate stiffness, cell shape, and cell stiffness modulate or interact with one another. Here, we use microcontact printing and microfabricated arrays of elastomeric posts to independently and simultaneously control cell shape and substrate stiffness. Our experiments show that cell cortical stiffness increases as a function of both substrate stiffness and spread area. For soft substrates, the influence of substrate stiffness on cell cortical stiffness is more prominent than that of cell shape, since increasing adherent area does not lead to cell stiffening. On the other hand, for cells constrained to a small area, cell shape effects are more dominant than substrate stiffness, since increasing substrate stiffness no longer affects cell stiffness. These results suggest that cell size and substrate stiffness can interact in a complex fashion to either enhance or antagonize each other's effect on cell morphology and mechanics.
Physical factors in the local cellular microenvironment, including cell shape and geometry, matrix mechanics, external mechanical forces, and nanotopographical features of the extracellular matrix, can all have strong influences in regulating stem cell fate. Stem cells sense and respond to these insoluble biophysical signals through integrin-mediated adhesions and the force balance between intracellular cytoskeletal contractility and the resistant forces originated from the extracellular matrix. Importantly, these mechanotransduction processes can couple with many other potent growth factor-mediated signaling pathways to regulate stem cell fate. Different bioengineering tools and micro/nanoscale devices have been successfully developed to engineer the physical aspects of the cellular microenvironment for stem cells, and these tools and devices have proven extremely powerful to identify the extrinsic physical factors and their downstream intracellular signaling pathways that control stem cell functions.
Microfabricated regular sieving structures hold great promise as an alternative to gels to improve biomolecule separation speed and resolution. In contrast to disordered gel porous networks, these regular structures also provide well-defined environments ideal for study of molecular dynamics in confining spaces. However, previous regular sieving structures have been limited for separation of long DNA molecules, and separation of smaller, physiologically-relevant macromolecules, such as proteins, still remains as a challenge. Here we report a microfabricated anisotropic sieving structure consisting of a two-dimensional periodic nanofluidic filter array (Anisotropic Nanofilter Array: ANA). The designed structural anisotropy in the ANA causes different-sized or -charged biomolecules to follow distinct trajectories, leading to efficient separation. Continuous-flow sizebased separation of DNA and proteins as well as electrostatic separation of proteins were achieved, thus demonstrating the potential of the ANA as a generic molecular sieving structure for an integrated biomolecule sample preparation and analysis system. Efficient methods of separating and purifying biomolecules from a complex mixture are of utmost importance in biology and biomedical engineering. Currently, nucleic acids and proteins are routinely separated based on size by gel filtration chromatography or by gel electrophoresis 1,2 . Both techniques use gelatinous materials that consist of a cross-linked, three-dimensional pore network, where the sieving interaction with the migrating macromolecules determines the separation efficiency 3,4 . Both gel-based techniques represent the current standard for size-based macromolecule separation. However poor separation resolution in gel filtration chromatography and difficult sample recovery with gel electrophoresis make neither method optimal in separating complex mixtures for downstream analysis 1 . Liquid and solid gelatinous materials have also been integrated in microchip-based *Correspondence should be addressed to Jongyoon Han [J. Han (email address: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: 617-253-2290, Fax: 617-258-5846) systems for rapid separation of biomolecules (e.g., DNA, proteins and carbohydrates) with high resolution 5-7 . However, the foreign sieving matrices pose intrinsic difficulties for the integration of automated multi-step bioanalysis microsystems. Furthermore, these microchipbased systems are limited to analytical separation of biomolecules, due to the difficulty of harvesting purified biomolecules for downstream analysis.Recently, there has been great interest in switching from disordered porous gel media to patterned regular sieving structures, either by colloidal templating of self-assembled bead arrays 8,9 or by microfabrication techniques 10-15 . While significantly more efficient than gels in terms of separation speed and resolution, these regular sieving structures still largely resemble gels in the sense that separation is achieved by repeated sieving through multiple, identical "pores"....
Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) have great potentials for future cell-based therapeutics. However, their mechanosensitivity to biophysical signals from the cellular microenvironment is not well characterized. Here we introduced an effective microfabrication strategy for accurate control and patterning of nanoroughness on glass surfaces. Our results demonstrated that nanotopography could provide a potent regulatory signal over different hESC behaviors, including cell morphology, adhesion, proliferation, clonal expansion, and self-renewal. Our results indicated that topological sensing of hESCs might include feedback regulation involving mechanosensory integrin-mediated cell-matrix adhesion, myosin II, and E-cadherin. Our results also demonstrated that cellular responses to nanotopography were cell-type specific and as such, we could generate a spatially segregated co-culture system for hESCs and NIH/3T3 fibroblasts using patterned nanorough glass surfaces.
We describe the use of a microfabricated cell culture substrate, consisting of a uniform array of closely spaced, vertical, elastomeric microposts, to study the effects of substrate rigidity on cell function. Elastomeric micropost substrates are micromolded from silicon masters comprised of microposts of different heights to yield substrates of different rigidities. The tips of the elastomeric microposts are functionalized with extracellular matrix through microcontact printing to promote cell adhesion. These substrates, therefore, present the same topographical cues to adherent cells while varying substrate rigidity only through manipulation of micropost height. This protocol describes how to fabricate the silicon micropost array masters (~2 weeks to complete) and elastomeric substrates (3 d), as well as how to perform cell culture experiments (1-14 d), immunofluorescence imaging (2 d), traction force analysis (2 d) and stem cell differentiation assays (1 d) on these substrates in order to examine the effect of substrate rigidity on stem cell morphology, traction force generation, focal adhesion organization and differentiation.
Precise monitoring of the rapidly changing immune status during the course of a disease requires multiplex analysis of cytokines from frequently sampled human blood. However, the current lack of rapid, multiplex, and low volume assays makes immune monitoring for clinical decision-making (e.g., critically ill patients) impractical. Without such assays, immune monitoring is even virtually impossible for infants and neonates with infectious diseases and/or immune mediated disorders as access to their blood in large quantities is prohibited. Localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR)-based microfluidic optical biosensing is a promising approach to fill this technical gap as it could potentially permit real-time refractometric detection of biomolecular binding on a metallic nanoparticle surface and sensor miniaturization, both leading to rapid and sample-sparing analyte analysis. Despite this promise, practical implementation of such a microfluidic assay for cytokine biomarker detection in serum samples has not been established primarily due to the limited sensitivity of LSPR biosensing. Here, we developed a high-throughput, label-free, multiarrayed LSPR optical biosensor device with 480 nanoplasmonic sensing spots in microfluidic channel arrays and demonstrated parallel multiplex immunoassays of six cytokines in a complex serum matrix on a single device chip while overcoming technical limitations. The device was fabricated using easy-to-implement, one-step microfluidic patterning and antibody conjugation of gold nanorods (AuNRs). When scanning the scattering light intensity across the microarrays of AuNR ensembles with dark-field imaging optics, our LSPR biosensing technique allowed for high-sensitivity quantitative cytokine measurements at concentrations down to 5–20 pg/mL from a 1 µL serum sample. Using the nanoplasmonic biosensor microarray device, we demonstrated the ability to monitor the inflammatory responses of infants following cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) surgery through tracking the time-course variations of their serum cytokines. The whole parallel on-chip assays, which involved the loading, incubation, and washing of samples and reagents, and 10-fold replicated multianalyte detection for each sample using the entire biosensor arrays, were completed within 40 min.
scite is a Brooklyn-based startup that helps researchers better discover and understand research articles through Smart Citations–citations that display the context of the citation and describe whether the article provides supporting or contrasting evidence. scite is used by students and researchers from around the world and is funded in part by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health.
334 Leonard St
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Copyright © 2023 scite Inc. All rights reserved.
Made with 💙 for researchers