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Issue 10, 2008
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Force-induced fibronectin fibrillogenesis in vitro

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Polymerization of fibronectin (FN) and its assembly into fibers, in vitro, is a two-step self-assembly process, initiated by the formation of a stable FN sheet made of globular particles at the air–liquid interface, and followed by shear-force driven fibrillogenesis along a superhydrophobic surface made of elastic micropillars. The initially-formed fibrils, displaying “rough” surfaces with globular subdomains, can be further stretched into “smooth” fibers with a characteristic diameter of 14 nm. Using high-resolution scanning electron microscopy, we demonstrated that the fibers formed in vitro are highly similar to an FN matrix produced by cultured fibroblasts. Furthermore, we showed that the stretched FN fibrils can support cell adhesion, and display antigenic epitopes which appear to be sequestered in the relaxed molecules. These findings suggest that cells are able to mechanically fine-tune the biological activity of the underlying matrix by modulating its structure, surface properties and organization.

Graphical abstract: Force-induced fibronectin fibrillogenesis in vitro

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The article was received on 12 May 2008, accepted on 17 Jun 2008 and first published on 12 Aug 2008

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/B808020H
Soft Matter, 2008,4, 1998-2007

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    Force-induced fibronectin fibrillogenesis in vitro

    J. Ulmer, B. Geiger and J. P. Spatz, Soft Matter, 2008, 4, 1998
    DOI: 10.1039/B808020H

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