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Probing cellular response to topography in three dimensions

Paul, Colin D., Hruska, Alex, Staunton, Jack R., Burr, Hannah A., Daly, Kathryn M., Kim, Jiyun, Jiang, Nancy, Tanner, Kandice
Biomaterials 2019 v.197 pp. 101-118
CD29 antigen, blood vessels, coatings, colloids, cytoplasm, extracellular matrix, focal adhesions, geometry, human cell lines, humans, hydrogels, mechanical properties, myosin
Biophysical aspects of in vivo tissue microenvironments include microscale mechanical properties, fibrillar alignment, and architecture or topography of the extracellular matrix (ECM). These aspects act in concert with chemical signals from a myriad of diverse ECM proteins to provide cues that drive cellular responses. Here, we used a bottom-up approach to build fibrillar architecture into 3D amorphous hydrogels using magnetic-field driven assembly of paramagnetic colloidal particles functionalized with three types of human ECM proteins found in vivo. We investigated if cells cultured in matrices comprised of fibrils of the same size and arranged in similar geometries will show similar behavior for each of the ECM proteins tested. We were able to resolve spatial heterogeneities in microscale mechanical properties near aligned fibers that were not observed in bulk tissue mechanics. We then used this platform to examine factors contributing to cell alignment in response to topographical cues in 3D laminin-rich matrices. Multiple human cell lines extended protrusions preferentially in directions parallel or perpendicular to aligned fibers independently of the ECM coating. Focal adhesion proteins, as measured by paxillin localization, were mainly diffuse in the cytoplasm, with few puncta localized at the protrusions. Integrin β1 and fascin regulated protrusion extension but not protrusion alignment. Myosin II inhibition did not reduce observed protrusion length. Instead, cells with reduced myosin II activity generated protrusions in random orientations when cultured in hydrogels with aligned fibers. Similarly, myosin II dependence was observed in vivo, where cells no longer aligned along the abluminal surfaces of blood vessels upon treatment with blebbistatin. These data suggest that myosin II can regulate sensing of topography in 3D engineered matrices for both normal and transformed cells.