Laboratory of Biosensors and Bioelectronics, Institute for Biomedical Engineering, ETH Zurich, Gloriastrasse 35, CH-8092 Zurich, Switzerland
LMC, Switzerland Light Microscopy Center, D-Biol, ETH Zurich, Schafmattstrasse 18, CH-8093 Zurich, Switzerland
Laboratory of Thermodynamics in Emerging Technologies, Institute of Energy Technology, Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering, ETH Zurich, Sonneggstrasse 3, CH-8092 Zurich, Switzerland
Surface-bound self-assembled lipidnanotubes (LNTs) made of 1,2-dioleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoethanolamine (DOPE) were used to visualize the contractile activity of spreading cells. The interaction of cells with LNTs resulted in the nucleation of new nanotubes, directed toward the cell center, from existing ones. This process depended on cell generated forces and required acto-myosin mediated contractility. The dynamics of de novo generation of LNTs upon cell spreading was captured using optical microscopy on fluorescently labeled nanotubes and revealed characteristic fingerprints for different cell types such as fibroblasts, endothelial and melanoma cells. Additionally, the method was applied to detect the effect of a specific inhibitor on the generation of cellular forces. The mechanism of the LNT–cell interaction and the potential applications are discussed.
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