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Issue 2, 2013
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FRET imaging of calcium signaling in live cells in the microenvironment

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The microenvironment has been shown to regulate cellular functions including cell growth, differentiation, proliferation, migration, cancer development and metastasis. However, the underlying molecular mechanism remains largely unclear. We have integrated micro-pattern technology and molecular biosensors based on fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) to visualize calcium responses in cells constrained to grow on a micro-patterned surface. Upon ATP stimulation, human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) cultured on different surface micro-patterns had a shorter decay time and a reduced peak of a transient intracellular calcium rise compared to control cells without constraints. The decay time is regulated by the plasma membrane and the membrane calcium channels, while the peak by endoplasmic reticulum (ER) calcium release. Further results revealed that voltage operated channels (VOCs), coupling the plasma membrane and ER, can affect both the decay time and the peak of calcium response. The inhibition of VOCs can eliminate the effect of different micro-patterns on calcium signals. When two connected HUVECs were constrained to grow on a micro-pattern, drastically distinct calcium responses upon ATP stimulation can be observed, in contrast to the similar responses of two connected cells cultured without patterns. Interestingly, the inhibition of VOCs also blocked this difference of calcium responses between two connected cells on micro-patterns. These results indicate that a micro-patterned surface can have a profound effect on the calcium responses of HUVECs under ATP stimulation, largely mediated by VOCs. Therefore, our results shed new light on the molecular mechanism by which HUVECs perceive the microenvironment and regulate intracellular calcium signals.

Graphical abstract: FRET imaging of calcium signaling in live cells in the microenvironment

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Publication details

The article was received on 19 Jul 2011, accepted on 25 Nov 2012 and first published on 29 Nov 2012

Article type: Technical Innovation
DOI: 10.1039/C2IB20264F
Citation: Integr. Biol., 2013,5, 431-438
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    FRET imaging of calcium signaling in live cells in the microenvironment

    T. Qian, S. Lu, H. Ma, J. Fang, W. Zhong and Y. Wang, Integr. Biol., 2013, 5, 431
    DOI: 10.1039/C2IB20264F

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