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Issue 3, 2009
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Cellular observations enabled by microculture: paracrine signaling and population demographics

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Abstract

The cellular microenvironment plays a critical role in shaping and directing the process of communication between the cells. Soluble signals are responsible for many cellular behaviors such as cell survival, proliferation and differentiation. Despite the importance of soluble signals, canonical methods are not well suited to the study of soluble factor interactions between multiple cell types. Macro-scale technology often puts cells into a convective environment that can wash away and dilute soluble signals from their targets, minimizing local concentrations of important factors. In addition, current methods such as transwells, require large numbers of cells and are limited to studying just two cell types. Here, we present data supporting the use of microchannels to study soluble factor signaling providing improved sensitivity as well as the ability to move beyond existing co-culture and conditioned medium paradigms. In addition, we present data suggesting that microculture can be used to unmask effects of population demographics. In this example the data support the hypothesis that a growth promoting subpopulation of cells exists in the mouse mammary gland.

Graphical abstract: Cellular observations enabled by microculture: paracrine signaling and population demographics

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Supplementary files

Article information


Submitted
22 Dec 2008
Accepted
30 Jan 2009
First published
09 Feb 2009

Integr. Biol., 2009,1, 267-274
Article type
Paper

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