Synergistic regulation of cell function by matrix rigidity and adhesive pattern
Cell–extracellular matrix (ECM) interactions play a critical role in regulating cellular behaviors. Recent studies of cell–ECM interactions have mainly focused on the actomyosin based and adhesion mediated mechanosensing pathways to understand how individual mechanical signals in the cell microenvironment, such as matrix rigidity and adhesive ECM pattern, are sensed by the cell and further trigger downstream intracellular signaling cascades and cellular responses. However, synergistic and collective regulation of cellular behaviors by matrix rigidity and adhesive ECM pattern are still elusive and largely uncharacterized. Here, we generated a library of microfabricated polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) micropost arrays to study the synergistic and independent effects of matrix rigidity and adhesive ECM pattern on mechanoresponsive behaviors of both NIH/3T3 fibroblasts and human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). We showed that both cell types were mechanosensitive and their cell spreading, FA formation, cytoskeletal contractility, and proliferation were all strongly dependent on both substrate rigidity and adhesive ECM pattern. We further showed that under the same substrate rigidity condition, smaller and closer adhesive ECM islands would cause both cells to spread out more, form more adhesion structures, and have a higher proliferation rate. The influence of adhesive ECM pattern on rigidity-mediated cytoskeletal contractility was cell type specific and was only significant for NIH/3T3. Morphometric analysis of cell populations revealed a strong correlation between focal adhesion and cell spreading, regardless of substrate rigidity and adhesive ECM pattern. We also observed a strong correlation between cellular traction force and cell spreading, with a substantially smaller independent effect of substrate rigidity on traction force. Our study here had determined key aspects of the biomechanical responses of adherent cells to independent and collective changes of substrate rigidity and adhesive ECM pattern.
Journal: Biomaterials - Volume 32, Issue 36, December 2011, Pages 9584–9593