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Issue 4, 2012
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A silicone-based stretchable micropost array membrane for monitoring live-cell subcellular cytoskeletal response

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Abstract

External forces are increasingly recognized as major regulators of cellular structure and function, yet the underlying mechanism by which cells sense forces and transduce them into intracellular biochemical signals and behavioral responses (‘mechanotransduction’) is largely undetermined. To aid in the mechanistic study of mechanotransduction, herein we devised a cell stretching device that allowed for quantitative control and real-time measurement of mechanical stimuli and cellular biomechanical responses. Our strategy involved a microfabricated array of silicone elastomeric microposts integrated onto a stretchable elastomeric membrane. Using a computer-controlled vacuum, this micropost array membrane (mPAM) was activated to apply equibiaxial cell stretching forces to adherent cells attached to the microposts. Using the mPAM, we studied the live-cell subcellular dynamic responses of contractile forces in vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) to a sustained static equibiaxial cell stretch. Our data showed that in response to a sustained cell stretch, VSMCs regulated their cytoskeletal (CSK) contractility in a biphasic manner: they first acutely enhanced their contraction to resist rapid cell deformation (‘stiffening’) before they allowed slow adaptive inelastic CSK reorganization to release their contractility (‘softening’). The contractile response across entire single VSMCs was spatially inhomogeneous and force-dependent. Our mPAM device and live-cell subcellular contractile measurements will help elucidate the mechanotransductive system in VSMCs and thus contribute to our understanding of pressure-induced vascular disease processes.

Graphical abstract: A silicone-based stretchable micropost array membrane for monitoring live-cell subcellular cytoskeletal response

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Supplementary files

Article information


Submitted
17 Sep 2011
Accepted
08 Dec 2011
First published
23 Dec 2011

Lab Chip, 2012,12, 731-740
Article type
Paper

A silicone-based stretchable micropost array membrane for monitoring live-cell subcellular cytoskeletal response

J. M. Mann, R. H. W. Lam, S. Weng, Y. Sun and J. Fu, Lab Chip, 2012, 12, 731
DOI: 10.1039/C2LC20896B

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