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Small leucine-rich proteoglycans inhibit CNS regeneration by modifying the structural and mechanical properties of the lesion environment
Julia Kolb, Vasiliki Tsata, Nora John, Kyoohyun Kim, Conrad Möckel, Gonzalo Rosso, Veronika Kurbel, Asha Parmar, Gargi Sharma, et al.
p21 Prevents the Exhaustion of Cluster of Differentiation 4-Positive T Cells Within the Antitumor Immune Response Against Colorectal Cancer
Oana-Maria Thoma, Elisabeth Naschberger, Markéta Kubánková, Imen Larafa, Viktoria Kramer, Bianca Menchicchi, Susanne Merkel, Nathalie Britzen-Laurent, André Jefremow, et al.
Gastroenterology (2023) | Journal
BACKGROUND & AIMS: T cells are crucial for the antitumor response against colorectal cancer (CRC). T-cell reactivity to CRC is nevertheless limited by T-cell exhaustion. However, molecular mechanisms regulating T-cell exhaustion are only poorly understood. METHODS: We investigated the functional role of cyclin-dependent kinase 1a (Cdkn1a or p21) in cluster of differentiation (CD) 4+ T cells using murine CRC models. Furthermore, we evaluated the expression of p21 in patients with stage I to IV CRC. In vitro coculture models were used to understand the effector function of p21-deficient CD4+ T cells. RESULTS: We observed that the activation of cell cycle regulator p21 is crucial for CD4+ T-cell cytotoxic function and that p21 deficiency in type 1 helper T cells (Th1) leads to increased tumor growth in murine CRC. Similarly, low p21 expression in CD4+ T cells infiltrated into tumors of CRC patients is associated with reduced cancer-related survival. In mouse models of CRC, p21-deficient Th1 cells show signs of exhaustion, where an accumulation of effector/effector memory T cells and CD27/CD28 loss are predominant. Immune reconstitution of tumor-bearing Rag1−/− mice using ex vivo-treated p21-deficient T cells with palbociclib, an inhibitor of cyclin-dependent kinase 4/6, restored cytotoxic function and prevented exhaustion of p21-deficient CD4+ T cells as a possible concept for future immunotherapy of human disease.<br>Conclusions<br><br>Our data reveal the importance of p21 in controlling the cell cycle and preventing exhaustion of Th1 cells. Furthermore, we unveil the therapeutic potential of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors such as palbociclib to reduce T-cell exhaustion for future treatment of patients with colorectal cancer.
Varying the Stiffness and Diffusivity of Rod-Shaped Microgels Independently through Their Molecular Building Blocks
Yonca Kittel, Luis P. B. Guerzoni, Carolina Itzin, Dirk Rommel, Matthias Mork, Céline Bastard, Bernhard Häßel, Abdolrahman Omidinia-Anarkoli, Silvia P. Centeno, et al.
Angewandte Chemie, International Edition in English e202309779 (2023) | Journal
Microgels are water-swollen, crosslinked polymers that are widely used as colloidal building blocks in scaffold materials for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Microgels can be controlled in their stiffness, degree of swelling, and mesh size depending on their polymer architecture, crosslink density, and fabrication method – all of which influence their function and interaction with the environment. Currently, there is a lack of understanding of how the polymer composition influences the internal structure of soft microgels and how this morphology affects specific biomedical applications. In this report, we systematically vary the architecture and molar mass of polyethylene glycol-acrylate (PEG-Ac) precursors, as well as their concentration and combination, to gain insight in the different parameters that affect the internal structure of rod-shaped microgels. We characterize the mechanical properties and diffusivity, as well as the conversion of acrylate groups during photopolymerization, in both bulk hydrogels and microgels produced from the PEG-Ac precursors. Furthermore, we investigate cell-microgel interaction, and we observe improved cell spreading on microgels with more accessible RGD peptide and with a stiffness in a range of 20 kPa to 50 kPa lead to better cell growth.
Human T cells loaded with superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles retain antigen-specific TCR functionality
Felix Pfister, Jan Dörrie, Niels Schaft, Vera Buchele, Harald Unterweger, Lucas R. Carnell, Patrick Schreier, Rene Stein, Markéta Kubánková, et al.
BACKGROUND: Immunotherapy of cancer is an emerging field with the potential to improve long-term survival. Thus far, adoptive transfer of tumor-specific T cells represents an effective treatment option for tumors of the hematological system such as lymphoma, leukemia or myeloma. However, in solid tumors, treatment efficacy is low owing to the immunosuppressive microenvironment, on-target/off-tumor toxicity, limited extravasation out of the blood vessel, or ineffective trafficking of T cells into the tumor region. Superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) can make cells magnetically controllable for the site-specific enrichment. METHODS: In this study, we investigated the influence of SPION-loading on primary human T cells for the magnetically targeted adoptive T cell therapy. For this, we analyzed cellular mechanics and the T cell response after stimulation via an exogenous T cell receptor (TCR) specific for the melanoma antigen MelanA or the endogenous TCR specific for the cytomegalovirus antigen pp65 and compared them to T cells that had not received SPIONs. RESULTS: SPION-loading of human T cells showed no influence on cellular mechanics, therefore retaining their ability to deform to external pressure. Additionally, SPION-loading did not impair the T cell proliferation, expression of activation markers, cytokine secretion, and tumor cell killing after antigen-specific activation mediated by the TCR. CONCLUSION: In summary, we demonstrated that SPION-loading of T cells did not affect cellular mechanics or the functionality of the endogenous or an exogenous TCR, which allows future approaches using SPIONs for the magnetically enrichment of T cells in solid tumors.
De novo identification of universal cell mechanics gene signatures
Marta Urbanska, Yan Ge, Maria Winzi, Shada Abuhattum Hofemeier, Syed Shafat Ali, Maik Herbig, Martin Kräter, Nicole Toepfner, Joanna Durgan, et al.
Cell mechanical properties determine many physiological functions, such as cell fate specification, migration, or circulation through vasculature. Identifying factors that govern the mechanical properties is therefore a subject of great interest. Here we present a mechanomics approach for establishing links between single-cell mechanical phenotype changes and the genes involved in driving them. We combine mechanical characterization of cells across a variety of mouse and human systems with machine learning-based discriminative network analysis of associated transcriptomic profiles to infer a conserved network module of five genes with putative roles in cell mechanics regulation. We validate in silico that the identified gene markers are universal, trustworthy and specific to the mechanical phenotype, and demonstrate experimentally that a selected target, CAV1, changes the mechanical phenotype of cells accordingly when silenced or overexpressed. Our data-driven approach paves the way towards engineering cell mechanical properties on demand to explore their impact on physiological and pathological cell functions.
Identification of a Distinct Monocyte-Driven Signature in Systemic Sclerosis Using Biophysical Phenotyping of Circulating Immune Cells
Alexandru-Emil Matei, Markéta Kubánková, Liyan Xu, Andrea-Hermina Györfi, Evgenia Boxberger, Despina Soteriou, Maria Papava, Julia Prater, Xuezhi Hong, et al.
OBJECTIVE: Pathologically activated circulating immune cells, including monocytes, play major roles in systemic sclerosis (SSc). Their functional characterization can provide crucial information with direct clinical relevance. However, tools for the evaluation of pathologic immune cell activation and, in general, of clinical outcomes in SSc are scarce. Biophysical phenotyping (including characterization of cell mechanics and morphology) provides access to a novel, mostly unexplored layer of information regarding pathophysiologic immune cell activation. We hypothesized that the biophysical phenotyping of circulating immune cells, reflecting their pathologic activation, can be used as a clinical tool for the evaluation and risk stratification of patients with SSc. METHODS: We performed biophysical phenotyping of circulating immune cells by real-time fluorescence and deformability cytometry (RT-FDC) in 63 SSc patients, 59 rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients, 28 antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody–associated vasculitis (AAV) patients, and 22 age- and sex-matched healthy donors. RESULTS: We identified a specific signature of biophysical properties of circulating immune cells in SSc patients that was mainly driven by monocytes. Since it is absent in RA and AAV, this signature reflects an SSc-specific monocyte activation rather than general inflammation. The biophysical properties of monocytes indicate current disease activity, the extent of skin or lung fibrosis, and the severity of manifestations of microvascular damage, as well as the risk of disease progression in SSc patients. CONCLUSION: Changes in the biophysical properties of circulating immune cells reflect their pathologic activation in SSc patients and are associated with clinical outcomes. As a high-throughput approach that requires minimal preparations, RT-FDC–based biophysical phenotyping of monocytes can serve as a tool for the evaluation and risk stratification of patients with SSc.
Dynamics of cell rounding during detachment
Agata Nyga, Katarzyna Plak, Martin Kräter, Marta Urbanska, Kyoohyun Kim, Jochen Guck, Buzz Baum
Animal cells undergo repeated shape changes, for example by rounding up and respreading as they divide. Cell rounding can be also observed in interphase cells, for example when cancer cells switch from a mesenchymal to an ameboid mode of cell migration. Nevertheless, it remains unclear how interphase cells round up. In this article, we demonstrate that a partial loss of substrate adhesion triggers actomyosin-dependent cortical remodeling and ERM activation, which facilitates further adhesion loss causing cells to round. Although the path of rounding in this case superficially resembles mitotic rounding in involving ERM phosphorylation, retraction fiber formation, and cortical remodeling downstream of ROCK, it does not require Ect2. This work provides insights into the way partial loss of adhesion actives cortical remodeling to drive cell detachment from the substrate. This is important to consider when studying the mechanics of cells in suspension, for example using methods like real-time deformability cytometry (RT-DC).
Rapid single-cell physical phenotyping of mechanically dissociated tissue biopsies
Despina Soteriou, Markéta Kubánková, Christine Schweitzer, Rocío López-Posadas, Rahmita Pradhan, Oana-Maria Thoma, Andrea-Hermina Györfi, Alexandru-Emil Matei, Maximilian Waldner, et al.
During surgery, rapid and accurate histopathological diagnosis is essential for clinical decision making. Yet the prevalent method of intra-operative consultation pathology is intensive in time, labour and costs, and requires the expertise of trained pathologists. Here we show that biopsy samples can be analysed within 30 min by sequentially assessing the physical phenotypes of singularized suspended cells dissociated from the tissues. The diagnostic method combines the enzyme-free mechanical dissociation of tissues, real-time deformability cytometry at rates of 100–1,000 cells s−1 and data analysis by unsupervised dimensionality reduction and logistic regression. Physical phenotype parameters extracted from brightfield images of single cells distinguished cell subpopulations in various tissues, enhancing or even substituting measurements of molecular markers. We used the method to quantify the degree of colon inflammation and to accurately discriminate healthy and tumorous tissue in biopsy samples of mouse and human colons. This fast and label-free approach may aid the intra-operative detection of pathological changes in solid biopsies.
Impact of crowding on the diversity of expanding populations
Carl F. Schreck, Diana Fusco, Yuya Karita, Stephen Martis, Jona Kayser, Marie-Cécilia Duvernoy, Oskar Hallatschek
Crowding effects critically impact the self-organization of densely packed cellular assemblies, such as biofilms, solid tumors, and developing tissues. When cells grow and divide, they push each other apart, remodeling the structure and extent of the population’s range. Recent work has shown that crowding has a strong impact on the strength of natural selection. However, the impact of crowding on neutral processes, which controls the fate of new variants as long as they are rare, remains unclear. Here, we quantify the genetic diversity of expanding microbial colonies and uncover signatures of crowding in the site frequency spectrum. By combining Luria–Delbrück fluctuation tests, lineage tracing in a novel microfluidic incubator, cell-based simulations, and theoretical modeling, we find that the majority of mutations arise behind the expanding frontier, giving rise to clones that are mechanically “pushed out” of the growing region by the proliferating cells in front. These excluded-volume interactions result in a clone-size distribution that solely depends on where the mutation first arose relative to the front and is characterized by a simple power law for low-frequency clones. Our model predicts that the distribution depends on a single parameter—the characteristic growth layer thickness—and hence allows estimation of the mutation rate in a variety of crowded cellular populations. Combined with previous studies on high-frequency mutations, our finding provides a unified picture of the genetic diversity in expanding populations over the whole frequency range and suggests a practical method to assess growth dynamics by sequencing populations across spatial scales.
Shear rheology of methyl cellulose based solutions for cell mechanical measurements at high shear rates
Beyza Büyükurganci, Santanu Kumar Basu, Markus Neuner, Jochen Guck, Andreas Wierschem, Felix Reichel
Methyl cellulose (MC) is a widely used material in various microfluidic applications in biology. Due to its biocompatibility, it has become a popular crowding agent for microfluidic cell deformability measurements, which usually operate at high shear rates (>10 000 s−1). However, a full rheological characterization of methyl cellulose solutions under these conditions has not yet been reported. With this study, we provide a full shear-rheological description for solutions of up to 1% MC dissolved in phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) that are commonly used in real-time deformability cytometry (RT-DC). We characterized three different MC-PBS solutions used for cell mechanical measurements in RT-DC with three different shear rheometer setups to cover a range of shear rates from 0.1–150 000 s−1. We report viscosities and normal stress differences in this regime. Viscosity functions can be well described using a Carreau–Yasuda model. Furthermore, we present the temperature dependency of shear viscosity and first normal stress difference of these solutions. Our results show that methyl cellulose solutions behave like power-law liquids in viscosity and exhibit first normal stress difference at shear rates between 5000–150 000 s−1. We construct a general viscosity equation for each MC solution at a certain shear rate and temperature. Furthermore, we investigated how MC concentration influences the rheology of the solutions and found the entanglement concentration at around 0.64 w/w%. Our results help to better understand the viscoelastic behavior of MC solutions, which can now be considered when modelling stresses in microfluidic channels.
Embracing the diversity of model systems to deconstruct the basis of regeneration and tissue repair
Aldine Amiel, Stephanie Tsai, Daniel Wehner
Development 150(3) dev.201579 (2023) | Journal
The eighth EMBO conference in the series ‘The Molecular and Cellular Basis of Regeneration and Tissue Repair’ took place in Barcelona (Spain) in September 2022. A total of 173 researchers from across the globe shared their latest advances in deciphering the molecular and cellular basis of wound healing, tissue repair and regeneration, as well as their implications for future clinical applications. The conference showcased an ever-expanding diversity of model organisms used to identify mechanisms that promote regeneration. Over 25 species were discussed, ranging from invertebrates to humans. Here, we provide an overview of the exciting topics presented at the conference, highlighting novel discoveries in regeneration and perspectives for regenerative medicine.
Image-based cell sorting using focused travelling surface acoustic waves
Ahmad Ahsan Nawaz, Despina Soteriou, Catherine Xu, Ruchi Goswami, Maik Herbig, Jochen Guck, Salvatore Girardo
Sorting cells is an essential primary step in many biological and clinical applications such as high-throughput drug screening, cancer research and cell transplantation. Cell sorting based on their mechanical properties has long been considered as a promising label-free biomarker that could revolutionize the isolation of cells from heterogeneous populations. Recent advances in microfluidic image-based cell analysis combined with subsequent label-free sorting by on-chip actuators demonstrated the possibility of sorting cells based on their physical properties. However, the high purity of sorting is achieved at the expense of a sorting rate that lags behind the analysis throughput. Furthermore, stable and reliable system operation is an important feature in enabling the sorting of small cell fractions from a concentrated heterogeneous population. Here, we present a label-free cell sorting method, based on the use of focused travelling surface acoustic wave (FTSAW) in combination with real-time deformability cytometry (RT-DC). We demonstrate the flexibility and applicability of the method by sorting distinct blood cell types, cell lines and particles based on different physical parameters. Finally, we present a new strategy to sort cells based on their mechanical properties. Our system enables the sorting of up to 400 particles per s. Sorting is therefore possible at high cell concentrations (up to 36 million per ml) while retaining high purity (>92%) for cells with diverse sizes and mechanical properties moving in a highly viscous buffer. Sorting of small cell fraction from a heterogeneous population prepared by processing of small sample volume (10 μl) is also possible and here demonstrated by the 667-fold enrichment of white blood cells (WBCs) from raw diluted whole blood in a continuous 10-hour sorting experiment. The real-time analysis of multiple parameters together with the high sensitivity and high-throughput of our method thus enables new biological and therapeutic applications in the future.
Epithelial RAC1-dependent cytoskeleton dynamics controls cell mechanics, cell shedding and barrier integrity in intestinal inflammation
Luz del Carmen Martínez-Sánchez, Phuong Anh Ngo, Rashmita Pradhan, Lukas-Sebastian Becker, David Boehringer, Despina Soteriou, Markéta Kubánková, Christine Schweitzer, Tatyana Koch, et al.
OBJECTIVE: Increased apoptotic shedding has been linked to intestinal barrier dysfunction and development of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). In contrast, physiological cell shedding allows the renewal of the epithelial monolayer without compromising the barrier function. Here, we investigated the role of live cell extrusion in epithelial barrier alterations in IBD. DESIGN: Taking advantage of conditional GGTase and RAC1 knockout mice in intestinal epithelial cells (Pggt1biΔIEC and Rac1iΔIEC mice), intravital microscopy, immunostaining, mechanobiology, organoid techniques and RNA sequencing, we analysed cell shedding alterations within the intestinal epithelium. Moreover, we examined human gut tissue and intestinal organoids from patients with IBD for cell shedding alterations and RAC1 function. RESULTS: Epithelial Pggt1b deletion led to cytoskeleton rearrangement and tight junction redistribution, causing cell overcrowding due to arresting of cell shedding that finally resulted in epithelial leakage and spontaneous mucosal inflammation in the small and to a lesser extent in the large intestine. Both in vivo and in vitro studies (knockout mice, organoids) identified RAC1 as a GGTase target critically involved in prenylation-dependent cytoskeleton dynamics, cell mechanics and epithelial cell shedding. Moreover, inflamed areas of gut tissue from patients with IBD exhibited funnel-like structures, signs of arrested cell shedding and impaired RAC1 function. RAC1 inhibition in human intestinal organoids caused actin alterations compatible with arresting of cell shedding. CONCLUSION: Impaired epithelial RAC1 function causes cell overcrowding and epithelial leakage thus inducing chronic intestinal inflammation. Epithelial RAC1 emerges as key regulator of cytoskeletal dynamics, cell mechanics and intestinal cell shedding. Modulation of RAC1 might be exploited for restoration of epithelial integrity in the gut of patients with IBD.
Evolutionary rescue of resistant mutants is governed by a balance between radial expansion and selection in compact populations
Serhii Aif, Nico Appold, Lucas Kampman, Oskar Hallatschek, Jona Kayser
Mutation-mediated treatment resistance is one of the primary challenges for modern antibiotic and anti-cancer therapy. Yet, many resistance mutations have a substantial fitness cost and are subject to purifying selection. How emerging resistant lineages may escape purifying selection via subsequent compensatory mutations is still unclear due to the difficulty of tracking such evolutionary rescue dynamics in space and time. Here, we introduce a system of fluorescence-coupled synthetic mutations to show that the probability of evolutionary rescue, and the resulting long-term persistence of drug resistant mutant lineages, is dramatically increased in dense microbial populations. By tracking the entire evolutionary trajectory of thousands of resistant lineages in expanding yeast colonies we uncover an underlying quasi-stable equilibrium between the opposing forces of radial expansion and natural selection, a phenomenon we term inflation-selection balance. Tailored computational models and agent-based simulations corroborate the fundamental nature of the observed effects and demonstrate the potential impact on drug resistance evolution in cancer. The described phenomena should be considered when predicting multi-step evolutionary dynamics in any mechanically compact cellular population, including pathogenic microbial biofilms and solid tumors. The insights gained will be especially valuable for the quantitative understanding of response to treatment, including emerging evolution-based therapy strategies.
Caveolin-1 dolines form a distinct and rapid caveolae-independent mechanoadaptation system
Fidel-Nicolás Lolo, Nikhil Walani, Eric Seemann, Dobryna Zalvidea, Dácil María Pavón, Gheorghe Cojoc, Moreno Zamai, Christine Varis de Lesegno, Fernando Martínez de Benito, et al.
In response to different types and intensities of mechanical force, cells modulate their physical properties and adapt their plasma membrane (PM). Caveolae are PM nano-invaginations that contribute to mechanoadaptation, buffering tension changes. However, whether core caveolar proteins contribute to PM tension accommodation independently from the caveolar assembly is unknown. Here we provide experimental and computational evidence supporting that caveolin-1 confers deformability and mechanoprotection independently from caveolae, through modulation of PM curvature. Freeze-fracture electron microscopy reveals that caveolin-1 stabilizes non-caveolar invaginations—dolines—capable of responding to low-medium mechanical forces, impacting downstream mechanotransduction and conferring mechanoprotection to cells devoid of caveolae. Upon cavin-1/PTRF binding, doline size is restricted and membrane buffering is limited to relatively high forces, capable of flattening caveolae. Thus, caveolae and dolines constitute two distinct albeit complementary components of a buffering system that allows cells to adapt efficiently to a broad range of mechanical stimuli.
Viscoelastic properties of suspended cells measured with shear flow deformation cytometry
Richard Gerum, Elham Mirzahossein, Mar Eroles, Jennifer Elsterer, Astrid Mainka, Andreas Bauer, Selina Sonntag, Alexander Winterl, Johannes Bartl, et al.
Numerous cell functions are accompanied by phenotypic changes in viscoelastic properties, and measuring them can help elucidate higher level cellular functions in health and disease. We present a high-throughput, simple and low-cost microfluidic method for quantitatively measuring the elastic (storage) and viscous (loss) modulus of individual cells. Cells are suspended in a high-viscosity fluid and are pumped with high pressure through a 5.8 cm long and 200 µm wide microfluidic channel. The fluid shear stress induces large, ear ellipsoidal cell deformations. In addition, the flow profile in the channel causes the cells to rotate in a tank-treading manner. From the cell deformation and tank treading frequency, we extract the frequency-dependent viscoelastic cell properties based on a theoretical framework developed by R. Roscoe  that describes the deformation of a viscoelastic sphere in a viscous fluid under steady laminar flow. We confirm the accuracy of the method using atomic force microscopy-calibrated polyacrylamide beads and cells. Our measurements demonstrate that suspended cells exhibit power-law, soft glassy rheological behavior that is cell-cycle-dependent and mediated by the physical interplay between the actin filament and intermediate filament networks.
PNIPAAm microgels with defined network architecture as temperature sensors in optical stretchers
Nicolas Hauck, Timon Beck, Gheorghe Cojoc, Raimund Schlüßler, Saeed Ahmed, Ivan Raguzin, Martin Mayer, Jonas Schubert, Paul Müller, et al.
Stretching individual living cells with light is a standard method to assess their mechanical properties. Yet, heat introduced by the laser light of optical stretchers may unwittingly change the mechanical properties of cells therein. To estimate the temperature induced by an optical trap, we introduce cell-sized, elastic poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAAm) microgels that relate temperature changes to hydrogel swelling. For their usage as a standardized calibration tool, we analyze the effect of free-radical chain-growth gelation (FCG) and polymer-analogous photogelation (PAG) on hydrogel network heterogeneity, micromechanics, and temperature response by Brillouin microscopy and optical diffraction tomography. Using a combination of tailor-made PNIPAAm macromers, PAG, and microfluidic processing, we obtain microgels with homogeneous network architecture. With that, we expand the capability of standardized microgels in calibrating and validating cell mechanics analysis, not only considering cell and microgel elasticity but also providing stimuli-responsiveness to consider dynamic changes that cells may undergo during characterization.
Quantitative phase imaging through an ultra-thin lensless fiber endoscope
Jiawei Sun, Jiachen Wu, Ruchi Goswami, Salvatore Girardo, Liangcai Cao, Jochen Guck, Nektarios Koukourakis, Jürgen W. Czarske
Quantitative phase imaging (QPI) is a label-free technique providing both morphology and quantitative biophysical information in biomedicine. However, applying such a powerful technique to in vivo pathological diagnosis remains challenging. Multi-core fiber bundles (MCFs) enable ultra-thin probes for in vivo imaging, but current MCF imaging techniques are limited to amplitude imaging modalities. We demonstrate a computational lensless microendoscope that uses an ultra-thin bare MCF to perform quantitative phase imaging with microscale lateral resolution and nanoscale axial sensitivity of the optical path length. The incident complex light field at the measurement side is precisely reconstructed from the far-field speckle pattern at the detection side, enabling digital refocusing in a multi-layer sample without any mechanical movement. The accuracy of the quantitative phase reconstruction is validated by imaging the phase target and hydrogel beads through the MCF. With the proposed imaging modality, three-dimensional imaging of human cancer cells is achieved through the ultra-thin fiber endoscope, promising widespread clinical applications.
Long COVID: Association of Functional Autoantibodies against G-Protein-Coupled Receptors with an Impaired Retinal Microcirculation
Charlotte Szewczykowski, Christian Mardin, Marianna Lucio, Gerd Wallukat, Jakob Hoffmanns, Thora Schröder, Franziska Raith, Lennart Rogge, Felix Heltmann, et al.
Long COVID (LC) describes the clinical phenotype of symptoms after infection with the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Diagnostic and therapeutic options are limited, as the pathomechanism of LC is elusive. As the number of acute SARS-CoV-2 infections was and is large, LC will be a challenge for the healthcare system. Previous studies revealed an impaired blood flow, the formation of microclots, and autoimmune mechanisms as potential factors in this complex interplay. Since functionally active autoantibodies against G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCR-AAbs) were observed in patients after SARS-CoV-2 infection, this study aimed to correlate the appearance of GPCR-AAbs with capillary microcirculation. The seropositivity of GPCR-AAbs was measured by an established cardiomyocyte bioassay in 42 patients with LC and 6 controls. Retinal microcirculation was measured by OCT–angiography and quantified as macula and peripapillary vessel density (VD) by the Erlangen-Angio Tool. A statistical analysis yielded impaired VD in patients with LC compared to the controls, which was accentuated in female persons. A significant decrease in macula and peripapillary VD for AAbs targeting adrenergic β2-receptor, MAS-receptor angiotensin-II-type-1 receptor, and adrenergic α1-receptor were observed. The present study might suggest that a seropositivity of GPCR-AAbs can be linked to an impaired retinal capillary microcirculation, potentially mirroring the systemic microcirculation with consecutive clinical symptoms.
In vivo assessment of mechanical properties during axolotl development and regeneration using confocal Brillouin microscopy
Camilo Riquelme-Guzmán, Timon Beck, Sandra Edwards-Jorquera, Raimund Schlüßler, Paul Müller, Jochen Guck, Stephanie Möllmert, Tatiana Sandoval-Guzmán
In processes such as development and regeneration, where large cellular and tissue rearrangements occur, cell fate and behaviour are strongly influenced by tissue mechanics. While most well-established tools probing mechanical properties require an invasive sample preparation, confocal Brillouin microscopy captures mechanical parameters optically with high resolution in a contact-free and label-free fashion. In this work, we took advantage of this tool and the transparency of the highly regenerative axolotl to probe its mechanical properties in vivo for the first time. We mapped the Brillouin frequency shift with high resolution in developing limbs and regenerating digits, the most studied structures in the axolotl. We detected a gradual increase in the cartilage Brillouin frequency shift, suggesting decreasing tissue compressibility during both development and regeneration. Moreover, we were able to correlate such an increase with the regeneration stage, which was undetected with fluorescence microscopy imaging. The present work evidences the potential of Brillouin microscopy to unravel the mechanical changes occurring in vivo in axolotls, setting the basis to apply this technique in the growing field of epimorphic regeneration.
Adipose cells and tissues soften with lipid accumulation while in diabetes adipose tissue stiffens
Shada Abuhattum, Petra Kotzbeck, Raimund Schlüßler, Alexandra Harger, Angela Ariza de Schellenberger, Kyoohyun Kim, Joan-Carles Escolano, Torsten Müller, Jürgen Braun, et al.
Adipose tissue expansion involves both differentiation of new precursors and size increase of mature adipocytes. While the two processes are well balanced in healthy tissues, obesity and diabetes type II are associated with abnormally enlarged adipocytes and excess lipid accumulation. Previous studies suggested a link between cell stiffness, volume and stem cell differentiation, although in the context of preadipocytes, there have been contradictory results regarding stiffness changes with differentiation. Thus, we set out to quantitatively monitor adipocyte shape and size changes with differentiation and lipid accumulation. We quantified by optical diffraction tomography that differentiating preadipocytes increased their volumes drastically. Atomic force microscopy (AFM)-indentation and -microrheology revealed that during the early phase of differentiation, human preadipocytes became more compliant and more fluid-like, concomitant with ROCK-mediated F-actin remodelling. Adipocytes that had accumulated large lipid droplets were more compliant, and further promoting lipid accumulation led to an even more compliant phenotype. In line with that, high fat diet-induced obesity was associated with more compliant adipose tissue compared to lean animals, both for drosophila fat bodies and murine gonadal adipose tissue. In contrast, adipose tissue of diabetic mice became significantly stiffer as shown not only by AFM but also magnetic resonance elastography. Altogether, we dissect relative contributions of the cytoskeleton and lipid droplets to cell and tissue mechanical changes across different functional states, such as differentiation, nutritional state and disease. Our work therefore sets the basis for future explorations on how tissue mechanical changes influence the behaviour of mechanosensitive tissue-resident cells in metabolic disorders.
Amoeboid-like migration ensures correct horizontal cell layer formation in the developing vertebrate retina
Rana Amini, Archit Bhatnagar, Raimund Schlüßler, Stephanie Möllmert, Jochen Guck, Caren Norden
Migration of cells in the developing brain is integral for the establishment of neural circuits and function of the central nervous system. While migration modes during which neurons employ predetermined directional guidance of either preexisting neuronal processes or underlying cells have been well explored, less is known about how cells featuring multipolar morphology migrate in the dense environment of the developing brain. To address this, we here investigated multipolar migration of horizontal cells in the zebrafish retina. We found that these cells feature several hallmarks of amoeboid-like migration that enable them to tailor their movements to the spatial constraints of the crowded retina. These hallmarks include cell and nuclear shape changes, as well as persistent rearward polarization of stable F-actin. Interference with the organization of the developing retina by changing nuclear properties or overall tissue architecture hampers efficient horizontal cell migration and layer formation showing that cell-tissue interplay is crucial for this process. In view of the high proportion of multipolar migration phenomena observed in brain development, the here uncovered amoeboid-like migration mode might be conserved in other areas of the developing nervous system.
mRNA Subtype of Cancer-Associated Fibroblasts Significantly Affects Key Characteristics of Head and Neck Cancer Cells
Barbora Peltanová, Hana Holcová Polanská, Martina Raudenská, Jan Balvan, Jiri Navrátil, Tomás Vicar, Jaromir Gumulec, Barbora Cechová, Martin Kräter, et al.
Head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC) belong among severe and highly complex malignant diseases showing a high level of heterogeneity and consequently also a variance in therapeutic response, regardless of clinical stage. Our study implies that the progression of HNSCC may be supported by cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) in the tumour microenvironment (TME) and the heterogeneity of this disease may lie in the level of cooperation between CAFs and epithelial cancer cells, as communication between CAFs and epithelial cancer cells seems to be a key factor for the sustained growth of the tumour mass. In this study, we investigated how CAFs derived from tumours of different mRNA subtypes influence the proliferation of cancer cells and their metabolic and biomechanical reprogramming. We also investigated the clinicopathological significance of the expression of these metabolism-related genes in tissue samples of HNSCC patients to identify a possible gene signature typical for HNSCC progression. We found that the right kind of cooperation between cancer cells and CAFs is needed for tumour growth and progression, and only specific mRNA subtypes can support the growth of primary cancer cells or metastases. Specifically, during coculture, cancer cell colony supporting effect and effect of CAFs on cell stiffness of cancer cells are driven by the mRNA subtype of the tumour from which the CAFs are derived. The degree of colony-forming support is reflected in cancer cell glycolysis levels and lactate shuttle-related transporters.
Depressive disorders are associated with increased peripheral blood cell deformability: a cross-sectional case-control study (Mood-Morph)
Andreas Walther, Anne Mackens-Kiani, Julian Eder, Maik Herbig, Christoph Herold, Clemens Kirschbaum, Jochen Guck, Lucas Wittwer, Katja Beesdo-Baum, et al.
Pathophysiological landmarks of depressive disorders are chronic low-grade inflammation and elevated glucocorticoid output. Both can potentially interfere with cytoskeleton organization, cell membrane bending and cell function, suggesting altered cell morpho-rheological properties like cell deformability and other cell mechanical features in depressive disorders. We performed a cross-sectional case-control study using the image-based morpho-rheological characterization of unmanipulated blood samples facilitating real-time deformability cytometry (RT-DC). Sixty-nine pre-screened individuals at high risk for depressive disorders and 70 matched healthy controls were included and clinically evaluated by Composite International Diagnostic Interview leading to lifetime and 12-month diagnoses. Facilitating deep learning on blood cell images, major blood cell types were classified and morpho-rheological parameters such as cell size and cell deformability of every individual cell was quantified. We found peripheral blood cells to be more deformable in patients with depressive disorders compared to controls, while cell size was not affected. Lifetime persistent depressive disorder was associated with increased cell deformability in monocytes and neutrophils, while in 12-month persistent depressive disorder erythrocytes deformed more. Lymphocytes were more deformable in 12-month major depressive disorder, while for lifetime major depressive disorder no differences could be identified. After correction for multiple testing, only associations for lifetime persistent depressive disorder remained significant. This is the first study analyzing morpho-rheological properties of entire blood cells and highlighting depressive disorders and in particular persistent depressive disorders to be associated with increased blood cell deformability. While all major blood cells tend to be more deformable, lymphocytes, monocytes, and neutrophils are mostly affected. This indicates that immune cell mechanical changes occur in depressive disorders, which might be predictive of persistent immune response.
Changes in Blood Cell Deformability in Chorea-Acanthocytosis and Effects of Treatment With Dasatinib or Lithium
Felix Reichel, Martin Kräter, Kevin Peikert, Hannes Glaß, Philipp Rosendahl, Maik Herbig, Alejandro Rivera Prieto, Alexander Kihm, Giel Bosman, et al.
Misshaped red blood cells (RBCs), characterized by thorn-like protrusions known as acanthocytes, are a key diagnostic feature in Chorea-Acanthocytosis (ChAc), a rare neurodegenerative disorder. The altered RBC morphology likely influences their biomechanical properties which are crucial for the cells to pass the microvasculature. Here, we investigated blood cell deformability of five ChAc patients compared to healthy controls during up to 1-year individual off-label treatment with the tyrosine kinase inhibitor dasatinib or several weeks with lithium. Measurements with two microfluidic techniques allowed us to assess RBC deformability under different shear stresses. Furthermore, we characterized leukocyte stiffness at high shear stresses. The results showed that blood cell deformability–including both RBCs and leukocytes - in general was altered in ChAc patients compared to healthy donors. Therefore, this study shows for the first time an impairment of leukocyte properties in ChAc. During treatment with dasatinib or lithium, we observed alterations in RBC deformability and a stiffness increase for leukocytes. The hematological phenotype of ChAc patients hinted at a reorganization of the cytoskeleton in blood cells which partly explains the altered mechanical properties observed here. These findings highlight the need for a systematic assessment of the contribution of impaired blood cell mechanics to the clinical manifestation of ChAc.
Unbiased retrieval of frequency-dependent mechanical properties from noisy time-dependent signals
Shada Abuhattum, Hui-Shun Kuan, Paul Mueller, Jochen Guck, Vasily Zaburdaev
The mechanical response of materials to dynamic loading is often quantified by the frequency-dependent complex modulus. Probing materials directly in the frequency domain faces technical challenges such as a limited range of frequencies, long measurement times, or small sample sizes. Furthermore, many biological samples, such as cells or tissues, can change their properties upon repetitive probing at different frequencies. Therefore, it is common practice to extract the material properties by fitting predefined mechanical models to measurements performed in the time domain. This practice, however, precludes the probing of unique and yet unexplored material properties. In this report, we demonstrate that the frequency-dependent complex modulus can be robustly retrieved in a model-independent manner directly from time-dependent stress-strain measurements. While applying a rolling average eliminates random noise and leads to a reliable complex modulus in the lower frequency range, a Fourier transform with a complex frequency helps to recover the material properties at high frequencies. Finally, by properly designing the probing procedure, the recovery of reliable mechanical properties can be extended to an even wider frequency range. Our approach can be used with many state-of-the-art experimental methods to interrogate the mechanical properties of biological and other complex materials.
An explicit model to extract viscoelastic properties of cells from AFM force-indentation curves
Shada Abuhattum Hofemeier, Dominic Mokbel, Paul Müller, Despina Soteriou, Jochen Guck, Sebastian Aland
Atomic force microscopy (AFM) is widely used for quantifying the mechanical properties of soft materials such as cells. AFM force-indentation curves are conventionally fitted with a Hertzian model to extract elastic properties. These properties solely are, however, insufficient to describe the mechanical properties of cells. Here, we expand the analysis capabilities to describe the viscoelastic behavior while using the same force-indentation curves. Our model gives an explicit relation of force and indentation and extracts physically meaningful mechanical parameters. We first validated the model on simulated force-indentation curves. Then, we applied the fitting model to the force-indentation curves of two hydrogels with different crosslinking mechanisms. Finally, we characterized HeLa cells in two cell cycle phases, interphase and mitosis, and showed that mitotic cells have a higher apparent elasticity and a lower apparent viscosity. Our study provides a simple method, which can be directly integrated into the standard AFM framework for extracting the viscoelastic properties of materials.
An exception to the rule? Regeneration of the injured spinal cord in the spiny mouse
Daniel Wehner, Catherina G. Becker
Developmental Cell 57(4) 415-416 (2022) | Journal
The capacity for long-distance axon regeneration and functional recovery after spinal cord injury in the adult has long been thought to be a unique feature of certain non-mammalian vertebrates. However, in this issue of Developmental Cell, Nogueira-Rodrigues et al. report an astonishingly high regenerative ability in the spiny mouse.
Quantitative imaging of Caenorhabditis elegans dauer larvae during cryptobiotic transition
Kyoohyun Kim, Vamshidhar Gade, Teymuras V. Kurzchalia, Jochen Guck
Upon starvation or overcrowding, the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans enters diapause by forming a dauer larva, which can then further survive harsh desiccation in an anhydrobiotic state. We have previously identified the genetic and biochemical pathways essential for survival—but without detailed knowledge of their material properties, the mechanistic understanding of this intriguing phenomenon remains incomplete. Here we employed optical diffraction tomography (ODT) to quantitatively assess the internal mass density distribution of living larvae in the reproductive and diapause stages. ODT revealed that the properties of the dauer larvae undergo a dramatic transition upon harsh desiccation. Moreover, mutants that are sensitive to desiccation displayed structural abnormalities in the anhydrobiotic stage that could not be observed by conventional microscopy. Our advance opens a door to quantitatively assessing the transitions in material properties and structure necessary to fully understand an organism on the verge of life and death.
Nonlinear microscopy using impulsive stimulated Brillouin scattering for high-speed elastography
Benedikt Krug, Nektarios Koukourakis, Jochen Guck, Jürgen Czarske
The impulsive stimulated Brillouin microscopy promises fast, non-contact measurements of the elastic properties of biological samples. The used pump-probe approach employs an ultra-short pulse laser and a cw laser to generate Brillouin signals. Modeling of the microscopy technique has already been carried out partially, but not for biomedical applications. The nonlinear relationship between pulse energy and Brillouin signal amplitude is proven with both simulations and experiments. Tayloring of the excitation parameters on the biologically relevant polyacrylamide hydrogels outline sub-ms temporal resolutions at a relative precision of <1%. Brillouin microscopy using the impulsive stimulated scattering therefore exhibits high potential for the measurements of viscoelastic properties of cells and tissues.
Label-free imaging flow cytometry for analysis and sorting of enzymatically dissociated tissues
Maik Herbig, Karen Tessmer, Martin Nötzel, Ahmad Ahsan Nawaz, Tiago Santos-Ferreira, Oliver Borsch, Sylvia J. Gasparini, Jochen Guck, Marius Ader
Biomedical research relies on identification and isolation of specific cell types using molecular biomarkers and sorting methods such as fluorescence or magnetic activated cell sorting. Labelling processes potentially alter the cells’ properties and should be avoided, especially when purifying cells for clinical applications. A promising alternative is the label-free identification of cells based on physical properties. Sorting real-time deformability cytometry (soRT-DC) is a microfluidic technique for label-free analysis and sorting of single cells. In soRT-FDC, bright-field images of cells are analyzed by a deep neural net (DNN) to obtain a sorting decision, but sorting was so far only demonstrated for blood cells which show clear morphological differences and are naturally in suspension. Most cells, however, grow in tissues, requiring dissociation before cell sorting which is associated with challenges including changes in morphology, or presence of aggregates. Here, we introduce methods to improve robustness of analysis and sorting of single cells from nervous tissue and provide DNNs which can distinguish visually similar cells. We employ the DNN for image-based sorting to enrich photoreceptor cells from dissociated retina for transplantation into the mouse eye.
Machine learning assisted real-time deformability cytometry of CD34+ cells allows to identify patients with myelodysplastic syndromes
Maik Herbig, Angela Jacobi, Manja Wobus, Heike Weidner, Anna Mies, Martin Kräter, Oliver Otto, Christian Thiede, Marie-Theresa Weickert, et al.
Diagnosis of myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) mainly relies on a manual assessment of the peripheral blood and bone marrow cell morphology. The WHO guidelines suggest a visual screening of 200 to 500 cells which inevitably turns the assessor blind to rare cell populations and leads to low reproducibility. Moreover, the human eye is not suited to detect shifts of cellular properties of entire populations. Hence, quantitative image analysis could improve the accuracy and reproducibility of MDS diagnosis. We used real-time deformability cytometry (RT-DC) to measure bone marrow biopsy samples of MDS patients and age-matched healthy individuals. RT-DC is a high-throughput (1000 cells/s) imaging flow cytometer capable of recording morphological and mechanical properties of single cells. Properties of single cells were quantified using automated image analysis, and machine learning was employed to discover morpho-mechanical patterns in thousands of individual cells that allow to distinguish healthy vs. MDS samples. We found that distribution properties of cell sizes differ between healthy and MDS, with MDS showing a narrower distribution of cell sizes. Furthermore, we found a strong correlation between the mechanical properties of cells and the number of disease-determining mutations, inaccessible with current diagnostic approaches. Hence, machine-learning assisted RT-DC could be a promising tool to automate sample analysis to assist experts during diagnosis or provide a scalable solution for MDS diagnosis to regions lacking sufficient medical experts.
Mechanical spinal cord transection in larval zebrafish and subsequent whole-mount histological processing
Nora John, Julia Kolb, Daniel Wehner
Zebrafish regenerate their spinal cord after injury, both at larval and adult stages. Larval zebrafish have emerged as a powerful model system to study spinal cord injury and regeneration due to their high optical transparency for in vivo imaging, amenability to high-throughput analysis, and rapid regeneration time. Here, we describe a protocol for the mechanical transection of the larval zebrafish spinal cord, followed by whole-mount tissue processing for in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry to elucidate principles of regeneration.
Correlative all-optical quantification of mass density and mechanics of subcellular compartments with fluorescence specificity
Raimund Schlüßler, Kyoohyun Kim, Martin Nötzel, Anna Taubenberger, Shada Abuhattum, Timon Beck, Paul Müller, Shovamaye Maharana, Gheorghe Cojoc, et al.
Quantitative measurements of physical parameters become increasingly important for understanding biological processes. Brillouin microscopy (BM) has recently emerged as one technique providing the 3D distribution of viscoelastic properties inside biological samples − so far relying on the implicit assumption that refractive index (RI) and density can be neglected. Here, we present a novel method (FOB microscopy) combining BM with optical diffraction tomography and epifluorescence imaging for explicitly measuring the Brillouin shift, RI, and absolute density with specificity to fluorescently labeled structures. We show that neglecting the RI and density might lead to erroneous conclusions. Investigating the nucleoplasm of wild-type HeLa cells, we find that it has lower density but higher longitudinal modulus than the cytoplasm. Thus, the longitudinal modulus is not merely sensitive to the water content of the sample − a postulate vividly discussed in the field. We demonstrate the further utility of FOB on various biological systems including adipocytes and intracellular membraneless compartments. FOB microscopy can provide unexpected scientific discoveries and shed quantitative light on processes such as phase separation and transition inside living cells.
Real-Time Deformability Cytometry Detects Leukocyte Stiffening After Gadolinium-Based Contrast Agent Exposure
Angela Jacobi, Angela Ariza de Schellenberger, Yavuz Oguz Uca, Maik Herbig, Jochen Guck, Ingolf Sack
Investigative Radiology 56(12) 837-844 (2021) | Journal
OBJECTIVES: Reports on gadolinium (Gd) retention in soft tissues after administration of Gd-based contrast agents (GBCAs) raise concerns about Gd-induced changes in the biophysical properties of cells and tissues. Here, we investigate if clinical GBCAs of both classes of linear and macrocyclic structure cause changes in the mechanical properties of leukocytes in human blood samples. MATERIAL AND METHODS: Real-time deformability cytometry was applied to human blood samples from 6 donors. The samples were treated with 1 mM gadoteric acid (Dotarem), gadopentetic acid (Magnevist), gadobutrol (Gadovist), or Gd trichloride at 37°C for 1 hour to mimic clinical doses of GBCAs and exposure times. Leukocyte subtypes—lymphocytes, monocytes, and neutrophils—were identified based on their size and brightness and analyzed for deformability, which is inversely correlated with cellular stiffness. RESULTS: We observed significant stiffening (3%–13%, P < 0.01) of all investigated leukocyte subtypes, which was most pronounced for lymphocytes, followed by neutrophils and monocytes, and the effects were independent of the charge and steric structure of the GBCA applied. In contrast, no changes in cell size and brightness were observed, suggesting that deformability and cell stiffness measured by real-time deformability cytometry are sensitive to changes in the physical phenotypes of leukocytes after GBCA exposure. CONCLUSIONS: Real-time deformability cytometry might provide a quantitative blood marker for critical changes in the physical properties of blood cells in patients undergoing GBCA-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging.
Passive coupling of membrane tension and cell volume during active response of cells to osmosis
Chloé Roffay, Guillaume Molinard, Kyoohyun Kim, Marta Urbanska, Virginia Andrade, Victoria Barbarasa, Paulina Nowak, Vincent Mercier, José García-Calvo, et al.
During osmotic changes of their environment, cells actively regulate their volume and plasma membrane tension that can passively change through osmosis. How tension and volume are coupled during osmotic adaptation remains unknown, as their quantitative characterization is lacking. Here, we performed dynamic membrane tension and cell volume measurements during osmotic shocks. During the first few seconds following the shock, cell volume varied to equilibrate osmotic pressures inside and outside the cell, and membrane tension dynamically followed these changes. A theoretical model based on the passive, reversible unfolding of the membrane as it detaches from the actin cortex during volume increase quantitatively describes our data. After the initial response, tension and volume recovered from hypoosmotic shocks but not from hyperosmotic shocks. Using a fluorescent membrane tension probe (fluorescent lipid tension reporter [Flipper-TR]), we investigated the coupling between tension and volume during these asymmetric recoveries. Caveolae depletion and pharmacological inhibition of ion transporters and channels, mTORCs, and the cytoskeleton all affected tension and volume responses. Treatments targeting mTORC2 and specific downstream effectors caused identical changes to both tension and volume responses, their coupling remaining the same. This supports that the coupling of tension and volume responses to osmotic shocks is primarily regulated by mTORC2.
Mapping Tumor Spheroid Mechanics in Dependence of 3D Microenvironment Stiffness and Degradability by Brillouin Microscopy
Vaibhav Mahajan, Timon Beck, Paulina Gregorczyk, André Ruland, Simon Alberti, Jochen Guck, Carsten Werner, Raimund Schlüßler, Anna V. Taubenberger
Altered biophysical properties of cancer cells and of their microenvironment contribute to cancer progression. While the relationship between microenvironmental stiffness and cancer cell mechanical properties and responses has been previously studied using two-dimensional (2D) systems, much less is known about it in a physiologically more relevant 3D context and in particular for multicellular systems. To investigate the influence of microenvironment stiffness on tumor spheroid mechanics, we first generated MCF-7 tumor spheroids within matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-degradable 3D polyethylene glycol (PEG)-heparin hydrogels, where spheroids showed reduced growth in stiffer hydrogels. We then quantitatively mapped the mechanical properties of tumor spheroids in situ using Brillouin microscopy. Maps acquired for tumor spheroids grown within stiff hydrogels showed elevated Brillouin frequency shifts (hence increased longitudinal elastic moduli) with increasing hydrogel stiffness. Maps furthermore revealed spatial variations of the mechanical properties across the spheroids’ cross-sections. When hydrogel degradability was blocked, comparable Brillouin frequency shifts of the MCF-7 spheroids were found in both compliant and stiff hydrogels, along with similar levels of growth-induced compressive stress. Under low compressive stress, single cells or free multicellular aggregates showed consistently lower Brillouin frequency shifts compared to spheroids growing within hydrogels. Thus, the spheroids’ mechanical properties were modulated by matrix stiffness and degradability as well as multicellularity, and also to the associated level of compressive stress felt by tumor spheroids. Spheroids generated from a panel of invasive breast, prostate and pancreatic cancer cell lines within degradable stiff hydrogels, showed higher Brillouin frequency shifts and less cell invasion compared to those in compliant hydrogels. Taken together, our findings contribute to a better understanding of the interplay between cancer cells and microenvironment mechanics and degradability, which is relevant to better understand cancer progression.
Matrix stiffness mechanosensing modulates the expression and distribution of transcription factors in Schwann cells
Gonzalo Rosso, Daniel Wehner, Christine Schweitzer, Stephanie Möllmert, Elisabeth Sock, Jochen Guck, Victor Shahin
After peripheral nerve injury, mature Schwann cells (SCs) de-differentiate and undergo cell reprogramming to convert into a specialized cell repair phenotype that promotes nerve regeneration. Reprogramming of SCs into the repair phenotype is tightly controlled at the genome level and includes downregulation of pro-myelinating genes and activation of nerve repair-associated genes. Nerve injuries induce not only biochemical but also mechanical changes in the tissue architecture which impact SCs. Recently, we showed that SCs mechanically sense the stiffness of the extracellular matrix and that SC mechanosensitivity modulates their morphology and migratory behavior. Here, we explore the expression levels of key transcription factors and myelin-associated genes in SCs, and the outgrowth of primary dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurites, in response to changes in the stiffness of generated matrices. The selected stiffness range matches the physiological conditions of both utilized cell types as determined in our previous investigations. We find that stiffer matrices induce upregulation of the expression of transcription factors Sox2, Oct6, and Krox20, and concomitantly reduce the expression of the repair-associated transcription factor c-Jun, suggesting a link between SC substrate mechanosensing and gene expression regulation. Likewise, DRG neurite outgrowth correlates with substrate stiffness. The remarkable intrinsic physiological plasticity of SCs, and the mechanosensitivity of SCs and neurites, may be exploited in the design of bioengineered scaffolds that promote nerve regeneration upon injury.
Physical phenotype of blood cells is altered in COVID-19
Markéta Kubánková, Bettina Hohberger, Jakob Hoffmanns, Julia Fürst, Martin Herrmann, Jochen Guck, Martin Kräter
Clinical syndrome coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) induced by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 is characterized by rapid spreading and high mortality worldwide. Although the pathology is not yet fully understood, hyperinflammatory response and coagulation disorders leading to congestions of microvessels are considered to be key drivers of the still-increasing death toll. Until now, physical changes of blood cells have not been considered to play a role in COVID-19 related vascular occlusion and organ damage. Here, we report an evaluation of multiple physical parameters including the mechanical features of five frequent blood cell types, namely erythrocytes, lymphocytes, monocytes, neutrophils, and eosinophils. More than four million blood cells of 17 COVID-19 patients at different levels of severity, 24 volunteers free from infectious or inflammatory diseases, and 14 recovered COVID-19 patients were analyzed. We found significant changes in lymphocyte stiffness, monocyte size, neutrophil size and deformability, and heterogeneity of erythrocyte deformation and size. Although some of these changes recovered to normal values after hospitalization, others persisted for months after hospital discharge, evidencing the long-term imprint of COVID-19 on the body.
HIF2α is a Direct Regulator of Neutrophil Motility
Sundary Sormendi, Mathieu Deygas, Anupam Sinha, Anja Krüger, Ioannis Kourtzelis, Gregoire Le Lay, Mathilde Bernard, Pablo J. Sáez, Michael Gerlach, et al.
Orchestrated recruitment of neutrophils to inflamed tissue is essential during initiation of inflammation. Inflamed areas are usually hypoxic, and adaptation to reduced oxygen pressure is typically mediated by hypoxia pathway proteins. However, it is still unclear how these factors influence the migration of neutrophils to and at the site of inflammation either during their transmigration through the blood-endothelial cell barrier, or their motility in the interstitial space. Here, we reveal that activation of the Hypoxia Inducible Factor-2 (HIF2α) due to deficiency of HIF-prolyl hydroxylase domain protein-2 (PHD2) boosts neutrophil migration specifically through highly confined microenvironments. In vivo, the increased migratory capacity of PHD2-deficient neutrophils resulted in massive tissue accumulation in models of acute local inflammation. Using systematic RNAseq analyses and mechanistic approaches, we identified RhoA, a cytoskeleton organizer, as the central downstream factor that mediates HIF2α-dependent neutrophil motility. Thus, we propose that the here identified novel PHD2-HIF2α-RhoA axis is vital to the initial stages of inflammation as it promotes neutrophil movement through highly confined tissue landscapes.
A unique macrophage subpopulation signals directly to progenitor cells to promote regenerative neurogenesis in the zebrafish spinal cord
Leonardo Cavone, Tess McCann, Louisa K. Drake, Erika A. Aguzzi, Ana-Maria Oprisoreanu, Elisa Pedersen, Soe Sandi, Jathurshan Selvarajah, Themistoklis M. Tsarouchas, et al.
Developmental Cell 56(11) 1617-+ (2021) | Journal
Central nervous system injury re-initiates neurogenesis in anamniotes (amphibians and fishes), but not in mammals. Activation of the innate immune system promotes regenerative neurogenesis, but it is fundamentally unknown whether this is indirect through the activation of known developmental signaling pathways or whether immune cells directly signal to progenitor cells using mechanisms that are unique to regeneration. Using single-cell RNA-seq of progenitor cells and macrophages, as well as cell-type-specific manipulations, we provide evidence for a direct signaling axis from specific lesion-activated macrophages to spinal progenitor cells to promote regenerative neurogenesis in zebrafish. Mechanistically, TNFa from pro-regenerative macrophages induces Tnfrsf1a-mediated AP-1 activity in progenitors to increase regeneration-promoting expression of hdac1 and neurogenesis. This establishes the principle that macrophages directly communicate to spinal progenitor cells via non-developmental signals after injury, providing potential targets for future interventions in the regeneration-deficient spinal cord of mammals.
Know How to Regrow-Axon Regeneration in the Zebrafish Spinal Cord
Vasiliki Tsata, Daniel Wehner
The capacity for long-distance axon regeneration and functional recovery after spinal cord injury is poor in mammals but remarkable in some vertebrates, including fish and salamanders. The cellular and molecular basis of this interspecies difference is beginning to emerge. This includes the identification of target cells that react to the injury and the cues directing their pro-regenerative responses. Among existing models of successful spinal cord regeneration, the zebrafish is arguably the most understood at a mechanistic level to date. Here, we review the spinal cord injury paradigms used in zebrafish, and summarize the breadth of neuron-intrinsic and -extrinsic factors that have been identified to play pivotal roles in the ability of zebrafish to regenerate central nervous system axons and recover function.
Rapid computational cell-rotation around arbitrary axes in 3D with multi-core fiber
Jiawei Sun, Nektarios Koukourakis, Jochen Guck, Jürgen W. Czarske
Optical trapping is a vital tool in biology, allowing precise optical manipulation of nanoparticles, micro-robots, and cells. Due to the low risk of photodamage and high trap stiffness, fiber-based dual-beam traps are widely used for optical manipulation of large cells. Besides trapping, advanced applications like 3D refractive index tomography need a rotation of cells, which requires precise control of the forces, for example, the acting-point of the forces and the intensities in the region of interest (ROI). A precise rotation of large cells in 3D about arbitrary axes has not been reported yet in dual-beam traps. We introduce a novel dual-beam optical trap in which a multi-core fiber (MCF) is transformed to a phased array, using wavefront shaping and computationally programmable light. The light-field distribution in the trapping region is holographically controlled within 0.1 s, which determines the orientation and the rotation axis of the cell with small retardation. We demonstrate real-time controlled rotation of HL60 cells about all 3D axes with a very high degree of freedom by holographic controlled light through an MCF with a resolution close to the diffraction limit. For the first time, the orientation of the cell can be precisely controlled about all 3D axes in a dual-beam trap. MCFs provide much higher flexibility beyond the bulky optics, enabling lab-on-a-chip applications and can be easily integrated for applications like contactless cell surgery, refractive index tomography, cell-elasticity measurement, which require precise 3D manipulation of cells.
Toward deep biophysical cytometry: prospects and challenges
Kelvin C.M. Lee, Jochen Guck, Keisuke Goda, Kevin K. Tsia
Trends in Biotechnology 39(12) 1249-1262 (2021) | Journal
Recent advances in biophysical cytometry now make it possible to recapitulate cellular heterogeneity at the levels of throughput, precision, specificity, and sensitivity that were once inconceivable. Technological developments in state-of-the-art biophysical cytometry include single-cell mass assays, cell traction force assays, deformability and impedance cytometry, and label-free imaging cytometry. Next-generation biophysical cytometry could be more comprehensive and information-rich by exploring multimodal integration, such as simultaneous read-out of cell mass, stiffness, and morphology. How molecular signatures translate into cellular biophysical properties is not fully understood. Advanced techniques involving microfluidics, imaging, and deep learning could investigate this link. Standardizing the protocols and datasets of biophysical cytometry will be crucial to ensure wide dissemination.
The Xenopus spindle is as dense as the surrounding cytoplasm
Abin Biswas, Kyoohyun Kim, Gheorghe Cojoc, Jochen Guck, Simone Reber
Developmental Cell 56(7) 967-975 (2021) | Journal
The mitotic spindle is a self-organizing molecular machine, where hundreds of different molecules continuously interact to maintain a dynamic steady state. While our understanding of key molecular players in spindle assembly is significant, it is still largely unknown how the spindle’s material properties emerge from molecular interactions. Here, we use correlative fluorescence imaging and label-free three-dimensional optical diffraction tomography (ODT) to measure the Xenopus spindle’s mass density distribution. While the spindle has been commonly referred to as a denser phase of the cytoplasm, we find that it has the same density as its surrounding, which makes it neutrally buoyant. Molecular perturbations suggest that spindle mass density can be modulated by tuning microtubule nucleation and dynamics. Together, ODT provides direct, unbiased, and quantitative information of the spindle’s emergent physical properties—essential to advance predictive frameworks of spindle assembly and function.
Compliant Substrates Enhance Macrophage Cytokine Release and NLRP3 Inflammasome Formation During Their Pro-Inflammatory Response
Joan-Carles Escolano, Anna V. Taubenberger, Shada Abuhattum, Christine Schweitzer, Aleeza Farrukh, Aránzazu del Campo, Clare E. Bryant, Jochen Guck
Immune cells process a myriad of biochemical signals but their function and behavior are also determined by mechanical cues. Macrophages are no exception to this. Being present in all types of tissues, macrophages are exposed to environments of varying stiffness, which can be further altered under pathological conditions. While it is becoming increasingly clear that macrophages are mechanosensitive, it remains poorly understood how mechanical cues modulate their inflammatory response. Here we report that substrate stiffness influences the expression of pro-inflammatory genes and the formation of the NLRP3 inflammasome, leading to changes in the secreted protein levels of the cytokines IL-1β and IL-6. Using polyacrylamide hydrogels of tunable elastic moduli between 0.2 and 33.1 kPa, we found that bone marrow-derived macrophages adopted a less spread and rounder morphology on compliant compared to stiff substrates. Upon LPS priming, the expression levels of the gene encoding for TNF-α were higher on more compliant hydrogels. When additionally stimulating macrophages with the ionophore nigericin, we observed an enhanced formation of the NLRP3 inflammasome, increased levels of cell death, and higher secreted protein levels of IL-1β and IL-6 on compliant substrates. The upregulation of inflammasome formation on compliant substrates was not primarily attributed to the decreased cell spreading, since spatially confining cells on micropatterns led to a reduction of inflammasome-positive cells compared to well-spread cells. Finally, interfering with actomyosin contractility diminished the differences in inflammasome formation between compliant and stiff substrates. In summary, we show that substrate stiffness modulates the pro-inflammatory response of macrophages, that the NLRP3 inflammasome is one of the components affected by macrophage mechanosensing, and a role for actomyosin contractility in this mechanosensory response. Thus, our results contribute to a better understanding of how microenvironment stiffness affects macrophage behavior, which might be relevant in diseases where tissue stiffness is altered and might potentially provide a basis for new strategies to modulate inflammatory responses.
AIDeveloper: deep learning image classification in life science and beyond
Martin Kräter, Shada Abuhattum Hofemeier, Despina Soteriou, Angela Jacobi, Thomas Krüger, Jochen Guck, Maik Herbig
Artificial intelligence (AI)‐based image analysis has increased drastically in recent years. However, all applications use individual solutions, highly specialized for a particular task. Here, an easy‐to‐use, adaptable, and open source software, called AIDeveloper (AID) to train neural nets (NN) for image classification without the need for programming is presented. AID provides a variety of NN‐architectures, allowing to apply trained models on new data, obtain performance metrics, and export final models to different formats. AID is benchmarked on large image datasets (CIFAR‐10 and Fashion‐MNIST). Furthermore, models are trained to distinguish areas of differentiated stem cells in images of cell culture. A conventional blood cell count and a blood count obtained using an NN are compared, trained on >1.2 million images, and demonstrated how AID can be used for label‐free classification of B‐ and T‐cells. All models are generated by non‐programmers on generic computers, allowing for an interdisciplinary use.
Mechanical properties of cell- and microgel bead-laden oxidized alginate-gelatin hydrogels
Thomas Distler, Lena Kretzschmar, Dominik Schneidereit, Salvatore Girardo, Ruchi Goswami, Oliver Friedrich, Rainer Detsch, Jochen Guck, Aldo R. Boccaccini, et al.
3D-printing technologies, such as biofabrication, capitalize on the homogeneous distribution and growth of cells inside biomaterial hydrogels, ultimately aiming to allow for cell differentiation, matrix remodeling, and functional tissue analogues. However, commonly, only the mechanical properties of the bioinks or matrix materials are assessed, while the detailed influence of cells on the resulting mechanical properties of hydrogels remains insufficiently understood. Here, we investigate the properties of hydrogels containing cells and spherical PAAm microgel beads through multi-modal complex mechanical analyses in the small- and large-strain regimes. We evaluate the individual contributions of different filler concentrations and a non-fibrous oxidized alginate-gelatin hydrogel matrix on the overall mechanical behavior in compression, tension, and shear. Through material modeling, we quantify parameters that describe the highly nonlinear mechanical response of soft composite materials. Our results show that the stiffness significantly drops for cell- and bead concentrations exceeding four million per milliliter hydrogel. In addition, hydrogels with high cell concentrations (≥6 mio ml−1) show more pronounced material nonlinearity for larger strains and faster stress relaxation. Our findings highlight cell concentration as a crucial parameter influencing the final hydrogel mechanics, with implications for microgel bead drug carrier-laden hydrogels, biofabrication, and tissue engineering.
A switch in pdgfrb+ cell-derived ECM composition prevents inhibitory scarring and promotes axon regeneration in the zebrafish spinal cord
Vasiliki Tsata, Stephanie Möllmert, Christine Schweitzer, Julia Kolb, Conrad Möckel, Benjamin Böhm, Gonzalo Rosso, Christian Lange, Mathias Lesche, et al.
Developmental Cell 56(4) 509-524 (2021) | Journal
In mammals, perivascular cell-derived scarring after spinal cord injury impedes axonal regrowth. In contrast, the extracellular matrix (ECM) in the spinal lesion site of zebrafish is permissive and required for axon regeneration. However, the cellular mechanisms underlying this interspecies difference have not been investigated. Here, we show that an injury to the zebrafish spinal cord triggers recruitment of pdgfrb+ myoseptal and perivascular cells in a PDGFR signaling-dependent manner. Interference with pdgfrb+ cell recruitment or depletion of pdgfrb+ cells inhibits axonal regrowth and recovery of locomotor function. Transcriptional profiling and functional experiments reveal that pdgfrb+ cells upregulate expression of axon growth-promoting ECM genes (cthrc1a and col12a1a/b) and concomitantly reduce synthesis of matrix molecules that are detrimental to regeneration (lum and mfap2). Our data demonstrate that a switch in ECM composition is critical for axon regeneration after spinal cord injury and identify the cellular source and components of the growth-promoting lesion ECM.
Reactive oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (re-)myelinate the regenerating zebrafish spinal cord
Vasiliki Tsata, Volker Kroehne, Daniel Wehner, Fabian Rost, Christian Lange, Cornelia Hoppe, Thomas Kurth, Susanne Reinhardt, Andreas Petzold, et al.
Development 147(24) dev193946 (2020) | Journal
Spinal cord injury (SCI) results in loss of neurons, oligodendrocytes and myelin sheaths, all of which are not efficiently restored. The scarcity of oligodendrocytes in the lesion site impairs re-myelination of spared fibres, which leaves axons denuded, impedes signal transduction and contributes to permanent functional deficits. In contrast to mammals, zebrafish can functionally regenerate the spinal cord. Yet, little is known about oligodendroglial lineage biology and re-myelination capacity after SCI in a regeneration-permissive context. Here, we report that, in adult zebrafish, SCI results in axonal, oligodendrocyte and myelin sheath loss. We find that OPCs, the oligodendrocyte progenitor cells, survive the injury, enter a reactive state, proliferate and differentiate into oligodendrocytes. Concomitantly, the oligodendrocyte population is reestablished to pre-injury levels within 2 weeks. Transcriptional profiling revealed that reactive OPCs upregulate the expression of several myelination-related genes. Interestingly, global reduction of axonal tracts and partial re-myelination, relative to pre-injury levels, persist at later stages of regeneration, yet are sufficient for functional recovery. Taken together, these findings imply that, in the zebrafish spinal cord, OPCs replace lost oligodendrocytes and, thus, re-establish myelination during regeneration.
Maturation of Monocyte-Derived DCs Leads to Increased Cellular Stiffness, Higher Membrane Fluidity, and Changed Lipid Composition
Jennifer J. Lühr, Nils Alex, Lukas Amon, Martin Kräter, Markéta Kubánková, Erdinc Sezgin, Christian H. K. Lehmann, Lukas Heger, Gordon F. Heidkamp, et al.
Dendritic cells (DCs) are professional antigen-presenting cells of the immune system. Upon sensing pathogenic material in their environment, DCs start to mature, which includes cellular processes, such as antigen uptake, processing and presentation, as well as upregulation of costimulatory molecules and cytokine secretion. During maturation, DCs detach from peripheral tissues, migrate to the nearest lymph node, and find their way into the correct position in the net of the lymph node microenvironment to meet and interact with the respective T cells. We hypothesize that the maturation of DCs is well prepared and optimized leading to processes that alter various cellular characteristics from mechanics and metabolism to membrane properties. Here, we investigated the mechanical properties of monocyte-derived dendritic cells (moDCs) using real-time deformability cytometry to measure cytoskeletal changes and found that mature moDCs were stiffer compared to immature moDCs. These cellular changes likely play an important role in the processes of cell migration and T cell activation. As lipids constitute the building blocks of the plasma membrane, which, during maturation, need to adapt to the environment for migration and DC-T cell interaction, we performed an unbiased high-throughput lipidomics screening to identify the lipidome of moDCs. These analyses revealed that the overall lipid composition was significantly changed during moDC maturation, even implying an increase of storage lipids and differences of the relative abundance of membrane lipids upon maturation. Further, metadata analyses demonstrated that lipid changes were associated with the serum low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and cholesterol levels in the blood of the donors. Finally, using lipid packing imaging we found that the membrane of mature moDCs revealed a higher fluidity compared to immature moDCs. This comprehensive and quantitative characterization of maturation associated changes in moDCs sets the stage for improving their use in clinical application.
Mechanical Adaptability of Tumor Cells in Metastasis
Valentin Gensbittel, Martin Kräter, Sébastien Harlepp, Ignacio Busnelli, Jochen Guck, Jacky G. Goetz
Developmental Cell (2020) | Journal
The most dangerous aspect of cancer lies in metastatic progression. Tumor cells will successfully form life-threatening metastases when they undergo sequential steps along a journey from the primary tumor to distant organs. From a biomechanics standpoint, growth, invasion, intravasation, circulation, arrest/adhesion, and extravasation of tumor cells demand particular cell-mechanical properties in order to survive and complete the metastatic cascade. With metastatic cells usually being softer than their non-malignant counterparts, high deformability for both the cell and its nucleus is thought to offer a significant advantage for metastatic potential. However, it is still unclear whether there is a finely tuned but fixed mechanical state that accommodates all mechanical features required for survival throughout the cascade or whether tumor cells need to dynamically refine their properties and intracellular components at each new step encountered. Here, we review the various mechanical requirements successful cancer cells might need to fulfill along their journey and speculate on the possibility that they dynamically adapt their properties accordingly. The mechanical signature of a successful cancer cell might actually be its ability to adapt to the successive microenvironmental constraints along the different steps of the journey.
Optical quantification of intracellular mass density and cell mechanics in 3D mechanical confinement
Sadra Bakhshandeh, Hubert Taïeb, Raimund Schlüßler, Kyoohyun Kim, Timon Beck, Anna Taubenberger, Jochen Guck, Amaia Cipitria
Biophysical properties of cells such as intracellular mass density and cell mechanics are known to be involved in a wide range of homeostatic functions and pathological alterations. An optical readout that can be used to quantify such properties is the refractive index (RI) distribution. It has been recently reported that the nucleus, initially presumed to be the organelle with the highest dry mass density (ρ) within the cell, has in fact a lower RI and ρ than its surrounding cytoplasm. These studies have either been conducted in suspended cells, or cells adhered on 2D substrates, neither of which reflects the situation in vivo where cells are surrounded by the extracellular matrix (ECM). To better approximate the 3D situation, we encapsulated cells in 3D covalently-crosslinked alginate hydrogels with varying stiffness, and imaged the 3D RI distribution of cells, using a combined optical diffraction tomography (ODT)-epifluorescence microscope. Unexpectedly, the nuclei of cells in 3D displayed a higher ρ than the cytoplasm, in contrast to 2D cultures. Using a Brillouin-epifluorescence microscope we subsequently showed that in addition to higher ρ, the nuclei also had a higher longitudinal modulus (M) and viscosity (η) compared to the cytoplasm. Furthermore, increasing the stiffness of the hydrogel resulted in higher M for both the nuclei and cytoplasm of cells in stiff 3D alginate compared to cells in compliant 3D alginate. The ability to quantify intracellular biophysical properties with non-invasive techniques will improve our understanding of biological processes such as dormancy, apoptosis, cell growth or stem cell differentiation.
Estrogens Determine Adherens Junction Organization and E-Cadherin Clustering in Breast Cancer Cells via Amphiregulin
Philip Bischoff, Marja Kornhuber, Sebastian Dunst, Jakob Zell, Beatrix Fauler, Thorsten Mielke, Anna V. Taubenberger, Jochen Guck, Michael Oelgeschlaeger, et al.
Estrogens play an important role in the development and progression of human cancers, particularly in breast cancer. Breast cancer progression depends on the malignant destabilization of adherens junctions (AJs) and disruption of tissue integrity. We found that estrogen receptor alpha (ER alpha) inhibition led to a striking spatial reorganization of AJs and microclustering of E-Cadherin (E-Cad) in the cell membrane of breast cancer cells. This resulted in increased stability of AJs and cell stiffness and a reduction of cell motility. These effects were actomyosindependent and reversible by estrogens. Detailed investigations showed that the ERa target gene and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) ligand Amphiregulin (AREG) essentially regulates AJ reorganization and E-Cad microclustering. Our results not only describe a biological mechanism for the organization of AJs and the modulation of mechanical properties of cells but also provide a new perspective on how estrogens and anti-estrogens might influence the formation of breast tumors.
The Relative Densities of Cytoplasm and Nuclear Compartments Are Robust against Strong Perturbation
Kyoohyun Kim, Jochen Guck
The cell nucleus is a compartment in which essential processes such as gene transcription and DNA replication occur. Although the large amount of chromatin confined in the finite nuclear space could install the picture of a particularly dense organelle surrounded by less dense cytoplasm, recent studies have begun to report the opposite. However, the generality of this newly emerging, opposite picture has so far not been tested. Here, we used combined optical diffraction tomography and epi-fluorescence microscopy to systematically quantify the mass densities of cytoplasm, nucleoplasm, and nucleoli of human cell lines, challenged by various perturbations. We found that the nucleoplasm maintains a lower mass density than cytoplasm during cell cycle progression by scaling its volume to match the increase of dry mass during cell growth. At the same time, nucleoli exhibited a significantly higher mass density than the cytoplasm. Moreover, actin and microtubule depolymerization and changing chromatin condensation altered volume, shape, and dry mass of those compartments, whereas the relative distribution of mass densities was generally unchanged. Our findings suggest that the relative mass densities across membrane-bound and membraneless compartments are robustly conserved, likely by different as-of-yet unknown mechanisms, which hints at an underlying functional relevance. This surprising robustness of mass densities contributes to an increasing recognition of the importance of physico-chemical properties in determining cellular characteristics and compartments.
Acquired demyelination but not genetic developmental defects in myelination leads to brain tissue stiffness changes
Dominic Eberle, Georgia Fodelianaki, Thomas Kurth, Anna Jagielska, Stephanie Möllmert, Elke Ulbricht, Katrin Wagner, Anna V. Taubenberger, Nicolas Träber, et al.
Changes in axonal myelination are an important hallmark of aging and a number of neurological diseases. Demyelinated axons are impaired in their function and degenerate over time. Oligodendrocytes, the cells responsible for myelination of axons, are sensitive to mechanical properties of their environment. Growing evidence indicates that mechanical properties of demyelinating lesions are different from the healthy state and thus have the potential to affect myelinating potential of oligodendrocytes. We performed a high-resolution spatial mapping of the mechanical heterogeneity of demyelinating lesions using atomic force microscope-enabled indentation. Our results indicate that the stiffness of specific regions of mouse brain tissue is influenced by age and degree of myelination. Here we specifically demonstrate that acquired acute but not genetic demyelination leads to decreased tissue stiffness, which could influence the remyelination potential of oligodendrocytes. We also demonstrate that specific brain regions have unique ranges of stiffness in white and grey matter. Our ex vivo findings may help the design of future in vitro models to mimic the mechanical environment of the brain in healthy and diseased states. The mechanical properties of demyelinating lesions reported here may facilitate novel approaches in treating demyelinating diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
Combined fluorescence, optical diffraction tomography and Brillouin microscopy
Raimund Schlüßler, Kyoohyun Kim, Martin Nötzel, Anna Taubenberger, Shada Abuhattum Hofemeier, Timon Beck, Paul Müller, Shovamayee Maharana, Gheorghe Cojoc, et al.
bioRxiv (2020) | PDF
Quantitative measurements of physical parameters become increasingly important for understanding biological processes. Brillouin microscopy (BM) has recently emerged as one technique providing the 3D distribution of viscoelastic properties inside biological samples — so far relying on the implicit assumption that refractive index (RI) and density can be neglected. Here, we present a novel method (FOB microscopy) combining BM with optical diffraction tomography and epi-fluorescence imaging for explicitly measuring the Brillouin shift, RI and absolute density with molecular specificity. We show that neglecting the RI and density might lead to erroneous conclusions. Investigating the cell nucleus, we find that it has lower density but higher longitudinal modulus. Thus, the longitudinal modulus is not merely sensitive to the water content of the sample — a postulate vividly discussed in the field. We demonstrate the further utility of FOB on various biological systems including adipocytes and intracellular membraneless compartments. FOB microscopy can provide unexpected scientific discoveries and shed quantitative light on processes such as phase separation and transition inside living cells.
Quantitative phase microscopy enables precise and efficient determination of biomolecular condensate composition
Patrick M. McCall, Kyoohyun Kim, Anatol W. Fritsch, J.M. Iglesias-Artola, L.M. Jawerth, Jie Wang, M. Ruer, J. Peychl, Andrey Poznyakovskiy, et al.
bioRxiv (2020) | PDF
Many compartments in eukaryotic cells are protein-rich biomolecular condensates demixed from the cyto- or nucleoplasm. Although much has been learned in recent years about the integral roles condensates play in many cellular processes as well as the biophysical properties of reconstituted condensates, an understanding of their most basic feature, their composition, remains elusive. Here we combined quantitative phase microscopy (QPM) and the physics of sessile droplets to develop a precise method to measure the shape and composition of individual model condensates. This technique does not rely on fluorescent dyes or tags, which we show can significantly alter protein phase behavior, and requires 1000-fold less material than traditional label-free technologies. We further show that this QPM method measures the protein concentration in condensates to a 3-fold higher precision than the next best label-free approach, and that commonly employed strategies based on fluorescence intensity dramatically underestimate these concentrations by as much as 50-fold. Interestingly, we find that condensed-phase protein concentrations can span a broad range, with PGL3, TAF15(RBD) and FUS condensates falling between 80 and 500 mg/ml under typical in vitro conditions. This points to a natural diversity in condensate composition specified by protein sequence. We were also able to measure temperature-dependent phase equilibria with QPM, an essential step towards relating phase behavior to the underlying physics and chemistry. Finally, time-resolved QPM reveals that PGL3 condensates undergo a contraction-like process during aging which leads to doubling of the internal protein concentration coupled to condensate shrinkage. We anticipate that this new approach will enable understanding the physical properties of biomolecular condensates and their function.
Proteomic, biomechanical and functional analyses define neutrophil heterogeneity in systemic lupus erythematosus
Kathleen R. Bashant, Angel M. Aponte, Davide Randazzo, Paniz Rezvan Sangsari, Alexander J. T. Wood, Jack A. Bibby, Erin E. West, Arlette Vassallo, Zerai G. Manna, et al.
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases 80(2) 209-218 (2020) | Journal
Objectives <br>Low-density granulocytes (LDGs) are a distinct subset of proinflammatory and vasculopathic neutrophils expanded in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Neutrophil trafficking and immune function are intimately linked to cellular biophysical properties. This study used proteomic, biomechanical and functional analyses to further define neutrophil heterogeneity in the context of SLE.<br><br>Methods <br>Proteomic/phosphoproteomic analyses were performed in healthy control (HC) normal density neutrophils (NDNs), SLE NDNs and autologous SLE LDGs. The biophysical properties of these neutrophil subsets were analysed by real-time deformability cytometry and lattice light-sheet microscopy. A two-dimensional endothelial flow system and a three-dimensional microfluidic microvasculature mimetic (MMM) were used to decouple the contributions of cell surface mediators and biophysical properties to neutrophil trafficking, respectively.<br><br>Results <br>Proteomic and phosphoproteomic differences were detected between HC and SLE neutrophils and between SLE NDNs and LDGs. Increased abundance of type 1 interferon-regulated proteins and differential phosphorylation of proteins associated with cytoskeletal organisation were identified in SLE LDGs relative to SLE NDNs. The cell surface of SLE LDGs was rougher than in SLE and HC NDNs, suggesting membrane perturbances. While SLE LDGs did not display increased binding to endothelial cells in the two-dimensional assay, they were increasingly retained/trapped in the narrow channels of the lung MMM.<br><br>Conclusions <br>Modulation of the neutrophil proteome and distinct changes in biophysical properties are observed alongside differences in neutrophil trafficking. SLE LDGs may be increasingly retained in microvasculature networks, which has important pathogenic implications in the context of lupus organ damage and small vessel vasculopathy.
Buckling of an Epithelium Growing under Spherical Confinement
Anastasiya Trushko, Ilaria Di Meglio, Aziza Merzouki, Carles Blanch-Mercader, Shada Abuhattum, Jochen Guck, Kevin Alessandri, Pierre Nassoy, Karsten Kruse, et al.
Many organs are formed through folding of an epithelium. This change in shape is usually attributed to tissue heterogeneities, for example, local apical contraction. In contrast, compressive stresses have been proposed to fold a homogeneous epithelium by buckling. While buckling is an appealing mechanism, demonstrating that it underlies folding requires measurement of the stress field and the material properties of the tissue, which are currently inaccessible in vivo. Here, we show that monolayers of identical cells proliferating on the inner surface of elastic spherical shells can spontaneously fold. By measuring the elastic deformation of the shell, we infer the forces acting within the monolayer and its elastic modulus. Using analytical and numerical theories linking forces to shape, we find that buckling quantitatively accounts for the shape changes of our monolayers. Our study shows that forces arising from epithelial growth in three-dimensional confinement are sufficient to drive folding by buckling.
Stretching and heating cells with light-nonlinear photothermal cell rheology
Constantin Huster, Devavrat Rekhade, Adina Hausch, Saeed Ahmed, Nicolas Hauck, Julian Thiele, Jochen Guck, Klaus Kroy, Gheorghe Cojoc
Stretching and heating are everyday experiences for skin and tissue cells. They are also standard procedures to reduce the risk for injuries in physical exercise and to relieve muscle spasms in physiotherapy. Here, we ask which immediate and long-term mechanical effects of such treatments are quantitatively detectable on the level of individual living cells. Combining versatile optical stretcher techniques with a well-tested mathematical model for viscoelastic polymer networks, we investigate the thermomechanical properties of suspended cells with a photothermal rheometric protocol that can disentangle fast transient and slow 'inelastic' components in the nonlinear mechanical response. We find that a certain minimum strength and duration of combined stretching and heating is required to induce long-lived alterations of the mechanical state of the cells, which then respond qualitatively differently to mechanical tests than after weaker/shorter treatments or merely mechanical preconditioning alone. Our results suggest a viable protocol to search for intracellular biomolecular signatures of the mathematically detected dissimilar mechanical response modes.
DryMass: handling and analyzing quantitative phase microscopy images of spherical, cell-sized objects
Paul Müller, Gheorghe Cojoc, Jochen Guck
BMC Bioinformatics (21) 221 1-8 (2020) | Journal
Quantitative phase imaging (QPI) is an established tool for the marker-free classification and quantitative characterization of biological samples. For spherical objects, such as cells in suspension, microgel beads, or liquid droplets, a single QPI image is sufficient to extract the radius and the average refractive index. This technique is invaluable, as it allows the characterization of large sample populations at high measurement rates. However, until now, no universal software existed that could perform this type of analysis. Besides the choice of imaging modality and the variety in imaging software, the main difficulty has been to automate the entire analysis pipeline from raw data to ensemble statistics.
A comparison of microfluidic methods for high-throughput cell deformability measurements
Marta Urbanska, Hector E. Munoz, Josephine Shaw Bagnall, Oliver Otto, Scott R. Manalis, Dino Di Carlo, Jochen Guck
The mechanical phenotype of a cell is an inherent biophysical marker of its state and function, with many applications in basic and applied biological research. Microfluidics-based methods have enabled single-cell mechanophenotyping at throughputs comparable to those of flow cytometry. Here, we present a standardized cross-laboratory study comparing three microfluidics-based approaches for measuring cell mechanical phenotype: constriction-based deformability cytometry (cDC), shear flow deformability cytometry (sDC) and extensional flow deformability cytometry (xDC). All three methods detect cell deformability changes induced by exposure to altered osmolarity. However, a dose-dependent deformability increase upon latrunculin B-induced actin disassembly was detected only with cDC and sDC, which suggests that when exposing cells to the higher strain rate imposed by xDC, cellular components other than the actin cytoskeleton dominate the response. The direct comparison presented here furthers our understanding of the applicability of the different deformability cytometry methods and provides context for the interpretation of deformability measurements performed using different platforms.<br> This Analysis compares microfluidics-based methods for assessing mechanical properties of cells in high throughput.
Intelligent image-based deformation-assisted cell sorting with molecular specificity
Ahmad Ahsan Nawaz, Marta Urbanska, Maik Herbig, Martin Nötzel, Martin Kräter, Philipp Rosendahl, Christoph Herold, Nicole Töpfner, Markéta Kubánková, et al.
Although label-free cell sorting is desirable for providing pristine cells for further analysis or use, current approaches lack molecular specificity and speed. Here, we combine real-time fluorescence and deformability cytometry with sorting based on standing surface acoustic waves and transfer molecular specificity to image-based sorting using an efficient deep neural network. In addition to general performance, we demonstrate the utility of this method by sorting neutrophils from whole blood without labels.<br> Sorting RT-FDC combines real-time fluorescence and deformability cytometry with sorting based on standing surface acoustic waves to transfer molecular specificity to label-free, image-based cell sorting using an efficient deep neural network.
Recent progress and current opinions in Brillouin Microscopy for life science application
Giuseppe Antonacci, Timon Beck, Alberto Bilenca, Jürgen Czarske, Kareem Elsayad, Jochen Guck, Kyoohyun Kim, Benedikt Krug, Francesca Palombo, et al.
Many important biological functions and processes are reflected in cell and tissue mechanical properties such as elasticity and viscosity. However, current techniques used for measuring these properties have major limitations, such as that they can often not measure inside intact cells and/or require physical contact—which cells can react to and change. Brillouin light scattering offers the ability to measure mechanical properties in a non-contact and label-free manner inside of objects with high spatial resolution using light, and hence has emerged as an attractive method during the past decade. This new approach, coined “Brillouin microscopy,” which integrates highly interdisciplinary concepts from physics, engineering, and mechanobiology, has led to a vibrant new community that has organized itself via a European funded (COST Action) network. Here we share our current assessment and opinion of the field, as emerged from a recent dedicated workshop. In particular, we discuss the prospects towards improved and more bio-compatible instrumentation, novel strategies to infer more accurate and quantitative mechanical measurements, as well as our current view on the biomechanical interpretation of the Brillouin spectra.
RNA-Induced Conformational Switching and Clustering of G3BP Drive Stress Granule Assembly by Condensation
Jordina Guillén Boixet , Andrii Kopach , Alex S. Holehouse, Sina Wittmann , Marcus Jahnel, Raimund Schlüssler, Kyoohyun Kim, Irmela Trussina , Jie Wang , et al.
Cell 181(2) 346-361 (2020) | Journal
Stressed cells shut down translation, release mRNA molecules from polysomes, and form stress granules (SGs) via a network of interactions that involve G3BP. Here we focus on the mechanistic underpinnings of SG assembly. We show that, under non-stress conditions, G3BP adopts a compact auto-inhibited state stabilized by electrostatic intramolecular interactions between the intrinsically disordered acidic tracts and the positively charged arginine-rich region. Upon release from polysomes, unfolded mRNAs outcompete G3BP auto-inhibitory interactions, engendering a conformational transition that facilitates clustering of G3BP through protein-RNA interactions. Subsequent physical crosslinking of G3BP clusters drives RNA molecules into networked RNA/protein condensates. We show that G3BP condensates impede RNA entanglement and recruit additional client proteins that promote SG maturation or induce a liquid-to-solid transition that may underlie disease. We propose that condensation coupled to conformational rearrangements and heterotypic multivalent interactions may be a general principle underlying RNP granule assembly.
The mechanics of myeloid cells
Kathleen R. Bashant, Nicole Toepfner, Christopher J. Day, Nehal N. Mehta, Mariana J. Kaplan, Charlotte Summers, Jochen Guck, Edwin R. Chilvers
Biology of the Cell 112(4) 103-112 (2020) | Journal
The effects of cell size, shape and deformability on cellular function have long been a topic of interest. Recently, mechanical phenotyping technologies capable of analysing large numbers of cells in real time have become available. This has important implications for biology and medicine, especially haemato-oncology and immunology, as immune cell mechanical phenotyping, immunologic function, and malignant cell transformation are closely linked and potentially exploitable to develop new diagnostics and therapeutics. In this review, we introduce the technologies used to analyse cellular mechanical properties and review emerging findings following the advent of high throughput deformability cytometry. We largely focus on cells from the myeloid lineage, which are derived from the bone marrow and include macrophages, granulocytes and erythrocytes. We highlight advances in mechanical phenotyping of cells in suspension that are revealing novel signatures of human blood diseases and providing new insights into pathogenesis of these diseases. The contributions of mechanical phenotyping of cells in suspension to our understanding of drug mechanisms, identification of novel therapeutics and monitoring of treatment efficacy particularly in instances of haematologic diseases are reviewed, and we suggest emerging topics of study to explore as high throughput deformability cytometers become prevalent in laboratories across the globe.
Oncogenic signaling alters cell shape and mechanics to facilitate cell division under confinement
Helen K Matthews, Sushila Ganguli, Katarzyna Plak, Anna V. Taubenberger, Zaw Win, Max Williamson, Matthieu Piel, Jochen Guck, Buzz Baum
Developmental Cell 52(5) 563-573 (2020) | Journal
To divide in a tissue, both normal and cancer cells become spherical and mechanically stiffen as they enter mitosis. We investigated the effect of oncogene activation on this process in normal epithelial cells. We found that short-term induction of oncogenic RasV12 activates downstream mitogen-activated protein kinase (MEK-ERK) signaling to alter cell mechanics and enhance mitotic rounding, so that RasV12-expressing cells are softer in interphase but stiffen more upon entry into mitosis. These RasV12-dependent changes allow cells to round up and divide faithfully when confined underneath a stiff hydrogel, conditions in which normal cells and cells with reduced levels of Ras-ERK signaling suffer multiple spindle assembly and chromosome segregation errors. Thus, by promoting cell rounding and stiffening in mitosis, oncogenic RasV12 enables cells to proliferate under conditions of mechanical confinement like those experienced by cells in crowded tumors.
Zebrafish spinal cord repair is accompanied by transient tissue stiffening
Stephanie Möllmert, Maria A. Kharlamova, Tobias Hoche, Anna V. Taubenberger, Shada Abuhattum, Veronika Kuscha, Thomas Kurth, Michael Brand, Jochen Guck
Biophysical Journal 118(2) 448-463 (2020) | Journal
Severe injury to the mammalian spinal cord results in permanent loss of function due to the formation of a glial-fibrotic scar. Both the chemical composition and the mechanical properties of the scar tissue have been implicated to inhibit neuronal regrowth and functional recovery. By contrast, adult zebrafish are able to repair spinal cord tissue and restore motor function after complete spinal cord transection owing to a complex cellular response that includes neurogenesis and axon regrowth. The mechanical mechanisms contributing to successful spinal cord repair in adult zebrafish are, however, currently unknown. Here, we employ AFM-enabled nano-indentation to determine the spatial distributions of apparent elastic moduli of living spinal cord tissue sections obtained from uninjured zebrafish and at distinct time points after complete spinal cord transection. In uninjured specimens, spinal gray matter regions were stiffer than white matter regions. During regeneration after transection, the spinal cord tissues displayed a significant increase of the respective apparent elastic moduli that transiently obliterated the mechanical difference between the two types of matter, before returning to baseline values after completion of repair. Tissue stiffness correlated variably with cell number density, oligodendrocyte interconnectivity, axonal orientation, and vascularization. The presented work constitutes the first quantitative mapping of the spatio-temporal changes of spinal cord tissue stiffness in regenerating adult zebrafish and provides the tissue mechanical basis for future studies into the role of mechanosensing in spinal cord repair.
Polyacrylamide Bead Sensors for in vivo Quantification of Cell-Scale Stress in Zebrafish Development
Nicole Träber, Klemens Uhlmann, Salvatore Girardo, Gokul Kesavan, Katrin Wagner, Jens Friedrichs, Ruchi Goswami, K Bai, Michael Brand, et al.
Scientific Reports 9(1) 17031 1-14 (2019) | Journal
Mechanical stress exerted and experienced by cells during tissue morphogenesis and organ formation plays an important role in embryonic development. While techniques to quantify mechanical stresses in vitro are available, few methods exist for studying stresses in living organisms. Here, we describe and characterize cell-like polyacrylamide (PAAm) bead sensors with well-defined elastic properties and size for in vivo quantification of cell-scale stresses. The beads were injected into developing zebrafish embryos and their deformations were computationally analyzed to delineate spatio-temporal local acting stresses. With this computational analysis-based cell-scale stress sensing (COMPAX) we are able to detect pulsatile pressure propagation in the developing neural rod potentially originating from polarized midline cell divisions and continuous tissue flow. COMPAX is expected to provide novel spatio-temporal insight into developmental processes at the local tissue level and to facilitate quantitative investigation and a better understanding of morphogenetic processes.
Colloidal crystals of compliant microgel beads to study cell migration and mechanosensitivity in 3D
Katrin Wagner, Salvatore Girardo, Ruchi Goswami, Gonzalo Rosso, Elke Ulbricht, Paul Müller, Despina Soteriou, Nicole Träber, Jochen Guck
Tissues are defined not only by their biochemical composition, but also by their distinct mechanical properties. It is now widely accepted that cells sense their mechanical environment and respond to it. However, studying the effects of mechanics in in vitro 3D environments is challenging since current 3D hydrogel assays convolve mechanics with gel porosity and adhesion. Here, we present novel colloidal crystals as modular 3D scaffolds where these parameters are principally decoupled by using monodisperse, protein-coated PAAm microgel beads as building blocks, so that variable stiffness regions can be achieved within one 3D colloidal crystal. Characterization of the colloidal crystal and oxygen diffusion simulations suggested the suitability of the scaffold to support cell survival and growth. This was confirmed by live-cell imaging and fibroblast culture over a period of four days. Moreover, we demonstrate unambiguous durotactic fibroblast migration and mechanosensitive neurite outgrowth of dorsal root ganglion neurons in 3D. This modular approach of assembling 3D scaffolds from mechanically and biochemically well-defined building blocks allows the spatial patterning of stiffness decoupled from porosity and adhesion sites in principle and provides a platform to investigate mechanosensitivity in 3D environments approximating tissues in vitro.
CASP1 variants influence subcellular caspase-1 localization, pyroptosome formation, pro-inflammatory cell death and macrophage deformability
Franz Kapplusch, Felix Schulze, Sabrina Rabe-Matschewsky, Susanne Russ, Maik Herbig, Michael Christian Heymann, Katharina Schoepf , Robert Stein, Ursula Range, et al.
Clinical Immunology 208 108232 (2019) | Journal
CASP1 variants result in reduced enzymatic activity of procaspase-1 and impaired IL-1β release. Despite this, affected individuals can develop systemic autoinflammatory disease. These seemingly contradictory observations have only partially been explained by increased NF-κB activation through prolonged interaction of variant procaspase-1 with RIP2. To identify further disease underlying pathomechanisms, we established an in vitro model using shRNA-directed knock-down of procaspase-1 followed by viral transduction of human monocytes (THP-1) with plasmids encoding for wild-type procaspase-1, disease-associated CASP1 variants (p.L265S, p.R240Q) or a missense mutation in the active center of procaspase-1 (p.C285A). THP1-derived macrophages carrying CASP1 variants exhibited mutation-specific molecular alterations. We here provide in vitro evidence for abnormal pyroptosome formation (p.C285A, p.240Q, p.L265S), impaired nuclear (pro)caspase-1 localization (p.L265S), reduced pro-inflammatory cell death (p.C285A) and changes in macrophage deformability that may contribute to disease pathophysiology of patients with CASP1 variants. This offers previously unknown molecular pathomechanisms in patients with systemic autoinflammatory disease.
Interaction of Axonal Chondrolectin with Collagen XIXa1 Is Necessary for Precise Neuromuscular Junction Formation
Ana-Maria Oprisoreanu, Hannah L. Smith, Sukrat Arya, Richard Webster, Zhen Zhong, Daniel Wehner, Marcos J. Cardozo, Thomas Becker, Kevin Talbot, et al.
Cell Reports 29(5) 1082-+ (2019) | Journal
Chondrolectin (Chodl) is needed for motor axon extension in zebrafish and is dysregulated in mouse models of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). However, the mechanistic basis of Chodl function is not known. Here, we use Chodl-deficient zebrafish and mouse mutants to show that the absence of Chodl leads to anatomical and functional defects of the neuromuscular synapse. In zebrafish, the growth of an identified motor axon beyond an "en passant'' synapse and later axon branching from synaptic points are impaired, leading to functional deficits. Mechanistically, motor-neuron-autonomous Chodl function depends on its intracellular domain and on binding muscle-derived collagen XIXa1 by its extracellular C-type lectin domain. Our data support evolutionarily conserved roles of Chodl in synaptogenesis and provide evidence for a "synapse-first'' scenario of motor axon growth in zebrafish.
Cell Mechanics Based Computational Classification of Red Blood Cells Via Unsupervised Machine Intelligence Applied to Morpho-Rheological Markers
Yan Ge, Philipp Rosenddahl, Claudio Duran, Sara Ciucci, Nicole Töpfner, Jochen Guck, Carlo Vittorio Cannistraci
IEEE/ACM Transactions on Computational Biology and Bioinformatics (2019) | Journal
Despite fluorescent cell-labelling being widely employed in biomedical studies, some of its drawbacks are inevitable, with unsuitable fluorescent probes or probes inducing a functional change being the main limitations. Consequently, the demand for and development of label-free methodologies to classify cells is strong and its impact on precision medicine is relevant. Towards this end, high-throughput techniques for cell mechanical phenotyping have been proposed to get a multidimensional biophysical characterization of single cells. With this motivation, our goal here is to investigate the extent to which an unsupervised machine learning methodology, which is applied exclusively on morpho-rheological markers obtained by real-time deformability and fluorescence cytometry (RT-FDC), can address the difficult task of providing label-free discrimination of reticulocytes from mature red blood cells. We focused on this problem, since the characterization of reticulocytes (their percentage and cellular features) in the blood is vital in multiple human disease conditions, especially bone-marrow disorders such as anemia and leukemia. Our approach reports promising label-free results in the classification of reticulocytes from mature red blood cells, and it represents a step forward in the development of high-throughput morpho-rheological-based methodologies for the computational categorization of single cells. Besides, our methodology can be an alternative but also a complementary method to integrate with existing cell-labelling techniques.<br>
Mechanical changes of peripheral nerve tissue microenvironment and their structural basis during development
Gonzalo Rosso, Jochen Guck
APL Bioengineering 3(3) 036107 (2019) | Journal
Peripheral nerves are constantly exposed to mechanical stresses associated with body growth and limb movements. Although some aspects of these nerves' biomechanical properties are known, the link between nerve biomechanics and tissue microstructures during development is poorly understood. Here, we used atomic force microscopy to comprehensively investigate the elastic modulus of living peripheral nerve tissue cross sections ex vivo at distinct stages of development and correlated these elastic moduli with various cellular and extracellular aspects of the underlying histological microstructure. We found that local nerve tissue stiffness is spatially heterogeneous and evolves biphasically during maturation. Furthermore, we found the intracellular microtubule network and the extracellular matrix collagens type I and type IV as major contributors to the nerves' biomechanical properties, but surprisingly not cellular density and myelin content as previously shown for the central nervous system. Overall, these findings characterize the mechanical microenvironment that surrounds Schwann cells and neurons and will further our understanding of their mechanosensing mechanisms during nerve development. These data also provide the design of artificial nerve scaffolds to promote biomedical nerve regeneration therapies by considering mechanical properties that better reflect the nerve microenvironment.
Some thoughts on the future of cell mechanics
Biophysical Review 11(15) 667-670 (2019) | Journal
Targeting Mechanoresponsive Proteins in Pancreatic Cancer: 4-Hydroxyacetophenone Blocks Dissemination and Invasion by Activating MYH14
Alexandra Surcel, Eric S. Schiffhauer, Dustin G. Thomas, Qingfeng Zhu, Kathleen T. DiNapoli, Maik Herbig, Oliver Otto, Hoku West-Foyle, Angela Jacobi, et al.
Metastasis is complex, involving multiple genetic, epigenetic, biochemical, and physical changes in the cancer cell and its microenvironment. Cells with metastatic potential are often characterized by altered cellular contractility and deformability, lending them the flexibility to disseminate and navigate through different microenvironments. We demonstrate that mechanoresponsiveness is a hallmark of pancreatic cancer cells. Key mechanoresponsive proteins, those that accumulate in response to mechanical stress, specifically nonmuscle myosin IIA (MYH9) and IIC (MYH14), alpha-actinin 4, and filamin B, were highly expressed in pancreatic cancer as compared with healthy ductal epithelia. Their less responsive sister paralogs-myosin IIB (MYH10), alpha-actinin 1, and filamin A-had lower expression differential or disappeared with cancer progression. We demonstrate that proteins whose cellular contributions are often overlooked because of their low abundance can have profound impact on cell architecture, behavior, and mechanics. Here, the low abundant protein MYH14 promoted metastatic behavior and could be exploited with 4-hydroxyacetophenone (4-HAP), which increased MYH14 assembly, stiffening cells. As a result, 4-HAP decreased dissemination, induced cortical actin belts in spheroids, and slowed retrograde actin flow. 4-HAP also reduced liver metastases in human pancreatic cancer-bearing nude mice. Thus, increasing MYH14 assembly overwhelms the ability of cells to polarize and invade, suggesting targeting the mechanoresponsive proteins of the actin cytoskeleton as a new strategy to improve the survival of patients with pancreatic cancer.<br> Significance: This study demonstrates that mechanoresponsive proteins become upregulated with pancreatic cancer progression and that this system of proteins can be pharmacologically targeted to inhibit the metastatic potential of pancreatic cancer cells.
nanite: using machine learning to assess the quality of atomic force microscopy-enabled nano-indentation data
Paul Müller, Shada Abuhattum Hofemeier, Stephanie Möllmert, Elke Ulbricht, Anna V. Taubenberger, Jochen Guck
Atomic force microscopy (AFM) allows the mechanical characterization of single cells and live tissue by quantifying force-distance (FD) data in nano-indentation experiments. One of the main problems when dealing with biological tissue is the fact that the measured FD curves can be disturbed. These disturbances are caused, for instance, by passive cell movement, adhesive forces between the AFM probe and the cell, or insufficient attachment of the tissue to the supporting cover slide. In practice, the resulting artifacts are easily spotted by an experimenter who then manually sorts out curves before proceeding with data evaluation. However, this manual sorting step becomes increasingly cumbersome for studies that involve numerous measurements or for quantitative imaging based on FD maps.
3D Microenvironment Stiffness Regulates Tumor Spheroid Growth and Mechanics via p21 and ROCK
Anna V. Taubenberger, Salvatore Girardo, Nicole Träber, Elisabeth Fischer-Friedrich, Martin Kräter, Katrin Wagner, Thomas Kurth, Isabel Richter, Barbara Haller, et al.
Advanced Biosystems 3(9) 1900128 (2019) | Journal
The mechanical properties of cancer cells and their microenvironment contribute to breast cancer progression. While mechanosensing has been extensively studied using 2D substrates, much less is known about it in a physiologically more relevant 3D context. Here it is demonstrated that breast cancer tumor spheroids, growing in 3D polyethylene glycol-heparin hydrogels, are sensitive to their environment stiffness. During tumor sphe-roid growth, compressive stresses of up to 2 kPa build up, as quantitated using elastic polymer beads as stress sensors. Atomic force microscopy reveals that tumor spheroid stiffness increases with hydrogel stiffness. Also, constituent cell stiffness increases in a Rho associated kinase (ROCK)- and F-actin-dependent manner. Increased hydrogel stiffness correlated with attenuated tumor spheroid growth, a higher proportion of cells in G0/G1 phase, and elevated levels of the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21. Drug-mediated ROCK inhibition not only reverses cell stiffening upon culture in stiff hydrogels but also increases tumor spheroid growth. Taken together, a mechanism by which the growth of a tumor spheroid can be regulated via cytoskeleton rearrangements in response to its mechanoen-vironment is revealed here. Thus, the findings contribute to a better under-standing of how cancer cells react to compressive stress when growing under confinement in stiff environments.
Effects of rigosertib on the osteo-hematopoietic niche in myelodysplastic syndromes
Ekaterina Balaian, Heike Weidner, Manja Wobus, Ulrike Baschant, Angela Jacobi, Anna Mies, Martin Bornhäuser, Jochen Guck, Lorenz C Hofbauer, et al.
Annals of Hematology 98(9) 2063-2072 (2019) | Journal
Rigosertib is a novel multi-kinase inhibitor, which has clinical activity towards leukemic progenitor cells of patients with high-risk myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) after failure or progression on hypomethylating agents. Since the bone marrow microenvironment plays an important role in MDS pathogenesis, we investigated the impact of rigosertib on cellular compartments within the osteo-hematopoietic niche. Healthy C57BL/6J mice treated with rigosertib for 3 weeks showed a mild suppression of hematopoiesis (hemoglobin and red blood cells, both - 16%, p < 0.01; white blood cells, - 34%, p < 0.05; platelets, - 38%, p < 0.05), whereas there was no difference in the number of hematopoietic stem cells in the bone marrow. Trabecular bone mass of the spine was reduced by rigosertib (- 16%, p = 0.05). This was accompanied by a lower trabecular number and thickness (- 6% and - 10%, respectively, p < 0.05), partly explained by the increase in osteoclast number and surface (p < 0.01). Milder effects of rigosertib on bone mass were detected in an MDS mouse model system (NHD13). However, rigosertib did not further aggravate MDS-associated cytopenia in NHD13 mice. Finally, we tested the effects of rigosertib on human mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) in vitro and demonstrated reduced cell viability at nanomolar concentrations. Deterioration of the hematopoietic supportive capacity of MDS-MSC after rigosertib pretreatment demonstrated by decreased number of colony-forming units, especially in the monocytic lineage, further supports the idea of disturbed crosstalk within the osteo-hematopoietic niche mediated by rigosertib. Thus, rigosertib exerts inhibitory effects on the stromal components of the osteo-hematopoietic niche which may explain the dissociation between anti-leukemic activity and the absence of hematological improvement.
Controlling distinct signaling states in cultured cancer cells provides a new platform for drug discovery
Steven W. Poser, Oliver Otto, Carina Arps-Forker, Yan Ge, Maik Herbig, Cordula Andree, Konrad Gruetzmann, Melissa F. Adasme, Szymon Stodolak, et al.
FASEB JOURNAL 33(8) 9235-9249 (2019) | Journal
Cancer cells can switch between signaling pathways to regulate growth under different conditions. In the tumor microenvironment, this likely helps them evade therapies that target specific pathways. We must identify all possible states and utilize them in drug screening programs. One such state is characterized by expression of the transcription factor Hairy and Enhancer of Split 3 (HES3) and sensitivity to HES3 knockdown, and it can be modeled in vitro. Here, we cultured 3 primary human brain cancer cell lines under 3 different culture conditions that maintain low, medium, and high HES3 expression and characterized gene regulation and mechanical phenotype in these states. We assessed gene expression regulation following HES3 knockdown in the HES3-high conditions. We then employed a commonly used human brain tumor cell line to screen Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved compounds that specifically target the HES3-high state. We report that cells from multiple patients behave similarly when placed under distinct culture conditions. We identified 37 FDA-approved compounds that specifically kill cancer cells in the high-HES3-expression conditions. Our work reveals a novel signaling state in cancer, biomarkers, a strategy to identify treatments against it, and a set of putative drugs for potential repurposing.-Poser, S. W., Otto, O., Arps-Forker, C., Ge, Y., Herbig, M., Andree, C., Gruetzmann, K., Adasme, M. F., Stodolak, S., Nikolakopoulou, P., Park, D. M., Mcintyre, A., Lesche, M., Dahl, A., Lennig, P., Bornstein, S. R., Schroeck, E., Klink, B., Leker, R. R., Bickle, M., Chrousos, G. P., Schroeder, M., Cannistraci, C. V., Guck, J., Androutsellis-Theotokis, A. Controlling distinct signaling states in cultured cancer cells provides a new platform for drug discovery.
High-Throughput Microfluidic Characterization of Erythrocyte Shapes and Mechanical Variability
Felix Reichel, Johannes Mauer, Ahmad Ahsan Nawaz, Gerhard Gompper, Jochen Guck, Dmitry A. Fedosov
Biophysical Journal 117(1) 14-24 (2019) | Journal
The motion of red blood cells (RBCs) in microchannels is important for microvascular blood flow and biomedical applications such as blood analysis in microfluidics. The current understanding of the complexity of RBC shapes and dynamics in microchannels is mainly based on several simulation studies, but there are a few systematic experimental investigations. Here, we present a combined study that systematically characterizes RBC behavior for a wide range of flow rates and channel sizes. Even though simulations and experiments generally show good agreement, experimental observations demonstrate that there is no single well-defined RBC state for fixed flow conditions but rather a broad distribution of states. This result can be attributed to the inherent variability in RBC mechanical properties, which is confirmed by a model that takes the variation in RBC shear elasticity into account This represents a significant step toward a quantitative connection between RBC behavior in microfluidic devices and their mechanical properties, which is essential for a high-throughput characterization of diseased cells.
Analysis of biomechanical properties of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells with Real-Time Deformability Cytometry
Angela Jacobi, Philipp Rosendahl, Martin Kräter, Marta Urbanska, Maik Herbig, Jochen Guck
Methods in Molecular Biology 2017 135-148 (2019) | Book Chapter
Stem cell mechanics, determined predominantly by the cell's cytoskeleton, plays an important role in different biological processes such as stem cell differentiation or migration. Several methods to measure mechanical properties of cells are currently available, but most of them are limited in the ability to screen large heterogeneous populations in a robust and efficient manner-a feature required for successful translational applications. With real-time fluorescence and deformability cytometry (RT-FDC), mechanical properties of cells in suspension can be screened continuously at rates of up to 1,000 cells/s-similar to conventional flow cytometers-which makes it a suitable method not only for basic research but also for a clinical setting. In parallel to mechanical characterization, RT-FDC allows to measure specific molecular markers using standard fluorescence labeling. In this chapter, we provide a detailed protocol for the characterization of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) in heterogeneous mobilized peripheral blood using RT-FDC and present a specific morpho-rheological fingerprint of HSPCs that allows to distinguish them from all other blood cell types.
Real-time deformability cytometry reveals sequential contraction and expansion during neutrophil priming
Kathleen R. Bashant, Arlette Vassallo, Christoph Herold, Reinhard Berner, Leonhard Menschner, Julien Subburayalu, Mariana J. Kaplan, Charlotte Summers, Jochen Guck, et al.
JOURNAL OF LEUKOCYTE BIOLOGY 105(6 SI) 1143-1153 (2019) | Journal
It has become increasingly apparent that the biomechanical properties of neutrophils impact on their trafficking through the circulation and in particularly through the pulmonary capillary bed. The retention of polarized or shape-changed neutrophils in the lungs was recently proposed to contribute to acute respiratory distress syndrome pathogenesis. Accordingly, this study tested the hypothesis that neutrophil priming is coupled to morpho-rheological (MORE) changes capable of altering cell function. We employ real-time deformability cytometry (RT-DC), a recently developed, rapid, and sensitive way to assess the distribution of size, shape, and deformability of thousands of cells within seconds. During RT-DC analysis, neutrophils can be easily identified within anticoagulated whole blood due to their unique granularity and size, thus avoiding the need for further isolation techniques, which affect biomechanical cell properties. Hence, RT-DC is uniquely suited to describe the kinetics of MORE cell changes. We reveal that, following activation or priming, neutrophils undergo a short period of cell shrinking and stiffening, followed by a phase of cell expansion and softening. In some contexts, neutrophils ultimately recover their un-primed mechanical phenotype. The mechanism(s) underlying changes in human neutrophil size are shown to be Na+/H+ antiport-dependent and are predicted to have profound implications for neutrophil movement through the vascular system in health and disease.
Morpho-Rheological Fingerprinting of Rod Photoreceptors Using Real-Time Deformability Cytometry
Tiago Santos-Ferreira, Maik Herbig, Oliver Otto, Madalena Carido, Mike O. Karl, Stylianos Michalakis, Jochen Guck, Marius Ader
Distinct cell-types within the retina are mainly specified by morphological and molecular parameters, however, physical properties are increasingly recognized as a valuable tool to characterize and distinguish cells in diverse tissues. High-throughput analysis of morpho-rheological features has recently been introduced using real-time deformability cytometry (RT-DC) providing new insights into the properties of different cell-types. Rod photoreceptors represent the main light sensing cells in the mouse retina that during development forms apically the densely packed outer nuclear layer. Currently, enrichment and isolation of photoreceptors from retinal primary tissue or pluripotent stem cell-derived organoids for analysis, molecular profiling, or transplantation is achieved using flow cytometry or magnetic activated cell sorting approaches. However, such purification methods require genetic modification or identification of cell surface binding antibody panels. Using primary retina and embryonic stem cell-derived retinal organoids, we characterized the inherent morpho-mechanical properties of mouse rod photoreceptors during development based on RT-DC. We demonstrate that rods become smaller and more compliant throughout development and that these features are suitable to distinguish rods within heterogenous retinal tissues. Hence, physical properties should be considered as additional factors that might affect photoreceptor differentiation and retinal development besides representing potential parameters for label-free sorting of photoreceptors.
Spheroid Culture of Mesenchymal Stromal Cells Results in Morphorheological Properties Appropriate for Improved Microcirculation
Stefanie Tietze, Martin Kräter, Angela Jacobi, Anna Taubenberger, Maik Herbig, Rebekka Wehner, Marc Schmitz, Oliver Otto, Catrin List, et al.
Human bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) are used in clinical trials for the treatment of systemic inflammatory diseases due to their regenerative and immunomodulatory properties. However, intravenous administration of MSCs is hampered by cell trapping within the pulmonary capillary networks. Here, it is hypothesized that traditional 2D plastic-adherent cell expansion fails to result in appropriate morphorheological properties required for successful cell circulation. To address this issue, a method to culture MSCs in nonadherent 3D spheroids (mesenspheres is adapted. The biological properties of mesensphere-cultured MSCs remain identical to conventional 2D cultures. However, morphorheological analyses reveal a smaller size and lower stiffness of mesensphere-derived MSCs compared to plastic-adherent MSCs, measured using real-time deformability cytometry and atomic force microscopy. These properties result in an increased ability to pass through microconstrictions in an ex vivo microcirculation assay. This ability is confirmed in vivo by comparison of cell accumulation in various organ capillary networks after intravenous injection of both types of MSCs in mouse. The findings generally identify cellular morphorheological properties as attractive targets for improving microcirculation and specifically suggest mesensphere culture as a promising approach for optimized MSC-based therapies.
The relationship between metastatic potential and in vitro mechanical properties of osteosarcoma cells
Claude N. Holenstein, Aron Horvath, Barbara Schar, Angelina D. Schoenenberger, Maja Bollhalder, Nils Goedecke, Guido Bartalena, Oliver Otto, Maik Herbig, et al.
MOLECULAR BIOLOGY OF THE CELL 30(7 SI) 887-898 (2019) | Journal
Osteosarcoma is the most frequent primary tumor of bone and is characterized by its high tendency to metastasize in lungs. Although treatment in cases of early diagnosis results in a 5-yr survival rate of nearly 60%, the prognosis for patients with secondary lesions at diagnosis is poor, and their 5-yr survival rate remains below 30%. In the present work, we have used a number of analytical methods to investigate the impact of increased metastatic potential on the biophysical properties and force generation of osteosarcoma cells. With that aim, we used two paired osteosarcoma cell lines, with each one comprising a parental line with low metastatic potential and its experimentally selected, highly metastatic form. Mechanical characterization was performed by means of atomic force microscopy, tensile biaxial deformation, and real-time deformability, and cell traction was measured using two-dimensional and micropost-based traction force microscopy. Our results reveal that the low metastatic osteosarcoma cells display larger spreading sizes and generate higher forces than the experimentally selected, highly malignant variants. In turn, the outcome of cell stiffness measurements strongly depends on the method used and the state of the probed cell, indicating that only a set of phenotyping methods provides the full picture of cell mechanics.
Accurate evaluation of size and refractive index for spherical objects in quantitative phase imaging
Paul Mueller, Mirjam Schuermann, Salvatore Girardo, Gheorghe Cojoc, Jochen Guck
OPTICS EXPRESS 26(8) 10729-10743 (2018) | Journal
Measuring the average refractive index (RI) of spherical objects, such as suspended cells, in quantitative phase imaging (QPI) requires a decoupling of RI and size from the QPI data. This has been commonly, achieved by determining the object's radius with geometrical approaches, neglecting light-scattering. Here, we present a novel QPI Fitting algorithm that reliably uncouples the RI using Mie theory and a semi-analytical, corrected Rytov approach. We assess the range of validity of this algorithm in silico and experimentally investigate various objects (oil and protein droplets, microgel beads, cells) and noise conditions. In addition, we provide important practical cues for the analysis of spherical objects in QPI. Published by The Optical Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Alterations in Cell Mechanics by Actin Cytoskeletal Changes Correlate with Strain-Specific Rubella Virus Phenotypes for Cell Migration and Induction of Apoptosis
Martin Kraeter, Jiranuwat Sapudom, Nicole Christin Bilz, Tilo Pompe, Jochen Guck, Claudia Claus
CELLS 7(9) 136 (2018) | Journal
The cellular cytoskeleton is central for key cellular functions, and as such is a marker for diseased and infected cell states. Here we analyzed infection with rubella virus (RV) strains with respect to phenotypes in cellular mechanical properties, cell movement, and viral cytopathogenicity. Real-time deformability cytometry (RT-DC), as a high-throughput platform for the assessment of cell mechanics, revealed a correlation of an increase in cortical filamentous-actin (F-actin) with a higher cellular stiffness. The additional reduction of stress fibers noted for only some RV strains as the most severe actin rearrangement lowered cell stiffness. Furthermore, a reduced collective and single cell migration speed in a wound healing assay was detected in addition to severe changes in cell morphology. The latter was followed by activation of caspase 3/7 as a sign for induction of apoptosis. Our study emphasizes RT-DC technology as a sensitive means to characterize viral cell populations and to implicate alterations of cell mechanical properties with cell functions. These interdependent events are not only promising options to elucidate viral spread and to understand viral pathologies within the infected host. They also contribute to any diseased cell state, as exemplified by RV as a representative agent for cytoskeletal alterations involved in a cytopathological outcome.
Axonal Transport, Phase-Separated Compartments, and Neuron Mechanics - A New Approach to Investigate Neurodegenerative Diseases
Martin Noetzel, Gonzalo Rosso, Stephanie Moellmert, Anne Seifert, Raimund Schluessler, Kyoohyun Kim, Andreas Hermann, Jochen Guck
FRONTIERS IN CELLULAR NEUROSCIENCE 12 358 (2018) | Journal
Many molecular and cellular pathogenic mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases have been revealed. However, it is unclear what role a putatively impaired neuronal transport with respect to altered mechanical properties of neurons play in the initiation and progression of such diseases. The biochemical aspects of intracellular axonal transport, which is important for molecular movements through the cytoplasm, e.g., mitochondrial movement, has already been studied. Interestingly, transport deficiencies are associated with the emergence of the affliction and potentially linked to disease transmission. Transport along the axon depends on the normal function of the neuronal cytoskeleton, which is also a major contributor to neuronal mechanical properties. By contrast, little attention has been paid to the mechanical properties of neurons and axons impaired by neurodegeneration, and of membraneless, phase-separated organelles such as stress granules (SGs) within neurons. Mechanical changes may indicate cytoskeleton reorganization and function, and thus give information about the transport and other system impairment. Nowadays, several techniques to investigate cellular mechanical properties are available. In this review, we discuss how select biophysical methods to probe material properties could contribute to the general understanding of mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative diseases.
Comparative study of cell mechanics methods
Pei-Hsun Wu, Dikla Raz-Ben Aroush, Atef Asnacios, Wei-Chiang Chen, Maxim Dokukin, Bryant L Doss, Pauline Durand, Andrew Ekpenyong, Jochen Guck, et al.
Nature methods 15(7) 491-498 (2018) | Journal
Cell mechanics controls important cellular and subcellular functions, including cell adhesion, migration, polarization, and differentiation, as well as organelle organization, and trafficking inside the cytoplasm. Yet, reported values of cell stiffness and viscosity vary strongly, suggesting disagreements. To address this issue and illustrate the complementarity of different instruments, we present, analyze, and critically compare measurements conducted by some of the most widelyused methods of cell mechanics: atomic force microscopy, magnetic twisting cytometry, particle-tracking microrheology, parallel-platesrheometry, cell monolayer rheology, and optical stretcher.These measurements highlight that elastic and viscous moduliofbreast cancer cell MCF-7 can vary 1,000 fold and 100fold,respectively. We discussthe sources ofthese variations,including the level of applied mechanical stress and rate of deformation, the geometry of the probe, the location probed in the cell, and the extracellular microenvironment.
Detection of human disease conditions by single-cell morpho-rheological phenotyping of blood
Nicole Toepfner, Christoph Herold, Oliver Otto, Philipp Rosendahl, Angela Jacobi, Martin Kraeter, Julia Staechele, Leonhard Menschner, Maik Herbig, et al.
eLife 7 e29213 (2018) | Journal
Blood is arguably the most important bodily fluid and its analysis provides crucial health status information. A first routine measure to narrow down diagnosis in clinical practice is the differential blood count, determining the frequency of all major blood cells. What is lacking to advance initial blood diagnostics is an unbiased and quick functional assessment of blood that can narrow down the diagnosis and generate specific hypotheses. To address this need, we introduce the continuous, cell-by-cell morpho-rheological (MORE) analysis of diluted whole blood, without labeling, enrichment or separation, at rates of 1000 cells/sec. In a drop of blood we can identify all major blood cells and characterize their pathological changes in several disease conditions in vitro and in patient samples. This approach takes previous results of mechanical studies on specifically isolated blood cells to the level of application directly in blood and adds a functional dimension to conventional blood analysis.
Droplet-Assisted Microfluidic Fabrication and Characterization of Multifunctional Polysaccharide Microgels Formed by Multicomponent Reactions
Nicolas Hauck, Nalin Seixas, Silvia P. Centeno, Raimund Schluelsser, Gheorghe Cojoc, Paul Mueller, Jochen Guck, Dominik Woell, Ludger A. Wessjohann, et al.
POLYMERS 10(10) 1055 (2018) | Journal
Polysaccharide-based microgels have broad applications in multi-parametric cell cultures, cell-free biotechnology, and drug delivery. Multicomponent reactions like the Passerini three-component and the Ugi four-component reaction are shown in here to be versatile platforms for fabricating these polysaccharide microgels by droplet microfluidics with a narrow size distribution. While conventional microgel formation requires pre-modification of hydrogel building blocks to introduce certain functionality, in multicomponent reactions one building block can be simply exchanged by another to introduce and extend functionality in a library-like fashion. Beyond synthesizing a range of polysaccharide-based microgels utilizing hyaluronic acid, alginate and chitosan, exemplary in-depth analysis of hyaluronic acid-based Ugi four-component gels is conducted by colloidal probe atomic force microscopy, confocal Brillouin microscopy, quantitative phase imaging, and fluorescence correlation spectroscopy to elucidate the capability of microfluidic multicomponent reactions for forming defined polysaccharide microgel networks. Particularly, the impact of crosslinker amount and length is studied. A higher network density leads to higher Young's moduli accompanied by smaller pore sizes with lower diffusion coefficients of tracer molecules in the highly homogeneous network, and vice versa. Moreover, tailored building blocks allow for crosslinking the microgels and incorporating functional groups at the same time as demonstrated for biotin-functionalized, chitosan-based microgels formed by Ugi four-component reaction. To these microgels, streptavidin-labeled enzymes are easily conjugated as shown for horseradish peroxidase (HRP), which retains its activity inside the microgels.
High-throughput single-cell mechanical phenotyping with real-time deformability cytometry
Marta Urbanska, Philipp Rosendahl, Martin Kraeter, Jochen Guck
Methods in Cell Biology (2018) | Book Chapter
Mechanical properties of cells can serve as a label-free marker of cell state and function and their alterations have been implicated in processes such as cancer metastasis, leukocyte activation, or stem cell differentiation. Over recent years, new techniques for single-cell mechanical characterization at high throughput have been developed to accelerate discovery in the field of mechanical phenotyping. One such technique is real-time deformability cytometry (RT-DC), a robust technology based on microfluidics that performs continuous mechanical characterization of cells in a contactless manner at rates of up to 1000 cells per second. This tremendous throughput allows for comparison of large sample numbers and precise characterization of heterogeneous cell populations. Additionally, parameters acquired in RT-DC measurements can be used to determine the apparent Young's modulus of individual cells. In this chapter, we present practical aspects important for the implementation of the RT-DC methodology, including a description of the setup, operation principles, and experimental protocols. In the latter, we describe a variety of preparation procedures for samples originating from different sources including 2D and 3D cell cultures as well as blood and tissue-derived primary cells, and discuss obstacles that may arise during their measurements. Finally, we provide insights into standard data analysis procedures and discuss the method's performance in light of other available techniques.
Intracellular Mass Density Increase Is Accompanying but Not Sufficient for Stiffening and Growth Arrest of Yeast Cells
Shada Abuhattum, Kyoohyun Kim, Titus M. Franzmann, Anne Esslinger, Daniel Midtvedt, Raimund Schluessler, Stephanie Mollmert, Hui-Shun Kuan, Simon Alberti, et al.
Frontiers in Physics 6 131 (2018) | Journal
Many organisms, including yeast cells, bacteria, nematodes, and tardigrades, endure harsh environmental conditions, such as nutrient scarcity, or lack of water and energy for a remarkably long time. The rescue programs that these organisms launch upon encountering these adverse conditions include reprogramming their metabolism in order to enter a quiescent or dormant state in a controlled fashion. Reprogramming coincides with changes in the macromolecular architecture and changes in the physical and mechanical properties of the cells. However, the cellular mechanisms underlying the physical-mechanical changes remain enigmatic. Here, we induce metabolic arrest of yeast cells by lowering their intracellular pH. We then determine the differences in the intracellular mass density and stiffness of active and metabolically arrested cells using optical diffraction tomography (ODT) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). We show that an increased intracellular mass density is associated with an increase in stiffness when the growth of yeast is arrested. However, increasing the intracellular mass density alone is not sufficient for maintenance of the growth-arrested state in yeast cells. Our data suggest that the cytoplasm of metabolically arrested yeast displays characteristics of a solid. Our findings constitute a bridge between the mechanical behavior of the cytoplasm and the physical and chemical mechanisms of metabolically arrested cells with the ultimate aim of understanding dormant organisms.
Mechanical Mapping of Spinal Cord Growth and Repair in Living Zebrafish Larvae by Brillouin Imaging
Raimund Schluessler, Stephanie Moellmert, Shada Abuhattum, Gheorghe Cojoc, Paul Mueller, Kyoohyun Kim, Conrad Moeckel, Conrad Zimmermann, Jurgen Czarske, et al.
BIOPHYSICAL JOURNAL 115(5) 911-923 (2018) | Journal
The mechanical properties of biological tissues are increasingly recognized as important factors in developmental and pathological processes. Most existing mechanical measurement techniques either necessitate destruction of the tissue for access or provide insufficient spatial resolution. Here, we show for the first time to our knowledge a systematic application of confocal Brillouin microscopy to quantitatively map the mechanical properties of spinal cord tissues during biologically relevant processes in a contact-free and nondestructive manner. Living zebrafish larvae were mechanically imaged in all anatomical planes during development and after spinal cord injury. These experiments revealed that Brillouin microscopy is capable of detecting the mechanical properties of distinct anatomical structures without interfering with the animal's natural development. The Brillouin shift within the spinal cord remained comparable during development and transiently decreased during the repair processes after spinal cord transection. By taking into account the refractive index distribution, we explicitly determined the apparent longitudinal modulus and viscosity of different larval zebrafish tissues. Importantly, mechanical properties differed between tissues in situ and in excised slices. The presented work constitutes the first step toward an in vivo assessment of spinal cord tissue mechanics during regeneration, provides a methodical basis to identify key determinants of mechanical tissue properties, and allows us to test their relative importance in combination with biochemical and genetic factors during developmental and regenerative processes.
Metabolic Profiling of Human Eosinophils
Linsey Porter, Nicole Toepfner, Kathleen R. Bashant, Jochen Guck, Margaret Ashcroft, Neda Farahi, Edwin R. Chilvers
FRONTIERS IN IMMUNOLOGY 9 1404 (2018) | Journal
Immune cells face constant changes in their microenvironment, which requires rapid metabolic adaptation. In contrast to neutrophils, which are known to rely near exclusively on glycolysis, the metabolic profile of human eosinophils has not been characterized. Here, we assess the key metabolic parameters of peripheral blood-derived human eosinophils using real-time extracellular flux analysis to measure extracellular acidification rate and oxygen consumption rate, and compare these parameters to human neutrophils. Using this methodology, we demonstrate that eosinophils and neutrophils have a similar glycolytic capacity, albeit with a minimal glycolytic reserve. However, compared to neutrophils, eosinophils exhibit significantly greater basal mitochondrial respiration, ATP-linked respiration, maximum respiratory capacity, and spare respiratory capacity. Of note, the glucose oxidation pathway is also utilized by eosinophils, something not evident in neutrophils. Furthermore, using a colorimetric enzymatic assay, we show that eosinophils have much reduced glycogen stores compared to neutrophils. We also show that physiologically relevant levels of hypoxia (PO2 3 kPa), by suppressing oxygen consumption rates, have a profound effect on basal and phorbol-myristate-acetate-stimulated eosinophil and neutrophil metabolism. Finally, we compared the metabolic profile of eosinophils purified from atopic and non-atopic subjects and show that, despite a difference in the activation status of eosinophils derived from atopic subjects, these cells exhibit comparable oxygen consumption rates upon priming with IL-5 and stimulation with fMLP. In summary, our findings show that eosinophils display far greater metabolic flexibility compared to neutrophils, with the potential to use glycolysis, glucose oxidation, and oxidative phosphorylation. This flexibility may allow eosinophils to adapt better to diverse roles in host defense, homeostasis, and immunomodulation.
Real-Time Deformability Cytometry: Label-Free Functional Characterization of Cells
Maik Herbig, Martin Kraeter, Katarzyna Plak, Paul Mueller, Jochen Guck, Oliver Otto
Methods in Molecular Biology (2018) | Book Chapter
Real-time deformability cytometry (RT-DC) is a microfluidic technique that allows to capture and evaluate morphology and rheology of up to 1000 cells/s in a constricted channel. The cells are deformed without mechanical contact by hydrodynamic forces and are quantified in real-time without the need of additional handling or staining procedures. Segmented pictures of the cells are stored and can be used for further analysis. RT-DC is sensitive to alterations of the cytoskeleton, which allows, e.g., to show differences in cell cycle phases, identify different subpopulations in whole blood and to study mechanical stiffening of cells entering a dormant state. The abundance of the obtainable parameters and the interpretation as mechanical readout is an analytical challenge that needs standardization. Here, we will provide guidelines for measuring and post-processing of RT-DC data.
Real-time fluorescence and deformability cytometry
Philipp Rosendahl, Katarzyna Plak, Angela Jacobi, Martin Kraeter, Nicole Toepfner, Oliver Otto, Christoph Herold, Maria Winzi, Maik Herbig, et al.
NATURE METHODS 15(5) 355-+ (2018) | Journal
The throughput of cell mechanical characterization has recently approached that of conventional flow cytometers. However, this very sensitive, label-free approach still lacks the specificity of molecular markers. Here we developed an approach that combines real-time 1D-imaging fluorescence and deformability cytometry in one instrument (RT-FDC), thus opening many new research avenues. We demonstrated its utility by using subcellular fluorescence localization to identify mitotic cells and test for mechanical changes in those cells in an RNA interference screen.
Standardized microgel beads as elastic cell mechanical probes
S. Girardo, N. Traeber, K. Wagner, G. Cojoc, C. Herold, R. Goswami, R. Schluessler, S. Abuhattum, A. Taubenberger, et al.
JOURNAL OF MATERIALS CHEMISTRY B 6(39) 6245-6261 (2018) | Journal
Cell mechanical measurements are gaining increasing interest in biological and biomedical studies. However, there are no standardized calibration particles available that permit the cross-comparison of different measurement techniques operating at different stresses and time-scales. Here we present the rational design, production, and comprehensive characterization of poly-acrylamide (PAAm) microgel beads mimicking size and overall mechanics of biological cells. We produced mono-disperse beads at rates of 20-60 kHz by means of a microfluidic droplet generator, where the pre-gel composition was adjusted to tune the beads' elasticity in the range of cell and tissue relevant mechanical properties. We verified bead homogeneity by optical diffraction tomography and Brillouin microscopy. Consistent elastic behavior of microgel beads at different shear rates was confirmed by AFM-enabled nanoindentation and real-time deformability cytometry (RT-DC). The remaining inherent variability in elastic modulus was rationalized using polymer theory and effectively reduced by sorting based on forward-scattering using conventional flow cytometry. Our results show that PAAm microgel beads can be standardized as mechanical probes, to serve not only for validation and calibration of cell mechanical measurements, but also as cell-scale stress sensors.
Toll-Like Receptor-Mediated Upregulation of CXCL16 in Psoriasis Orchestrates Neutrophil Activation
Sabine Steffen, Susanne Abraham, Maik Herbig, Franziska Schmidt, Kristin Blau, Susann Meisterfeld, Stefan Beissert, Jochen Guck, Claudia Guenther
JOURNAL OF INVESTIGATIVE DERMATOLOGY 138(2) 344-354 (2018) | Journal
Innate immune processes are central in the development of the chronic inflammatory skin disease psoriasis. Studying stimulation of keratinocytes, monocytes, and dendritic cells by type I interferons or ligation of Tolllike receptors 1/2, 2/6, or 7, but not 7/8, resulted in enhanced surface expression and secretion of CXC chemokine ligand (CXCL) 16. The corresponding CXC chemokine receptor 6 was expressed on neutrophils whose recruitment into skin is important, especially in early psoriatic disease. Using the recently developed technique real-time deformability cytometry demonstrated that CXCL16 and IL-8 decreased the stiffness and enhanced deformation of neutrophils facilitating transmigration through vessel wall. In addition, CXCL16 potently induced migration of neutrophils and enhanced the chemotactic effect of IL-8. The positive feedback loop was supported by IL-8 enhancing CXCL16 production of neutrophils. Blocking of CXCL16 expression by effective treatment of psoriasis patients with tumor necrosis factor-alpha blockers further supported the pathogenic role of this chemokine. In summary, the data link innate immune stimulation to CXCL16 upregulation and neutrophil infiltration into skin. CXCL16 could therefore represent a potent future target for treatment of psoriasis.
Actin stress fiber organization promotes cell stiffening and proliferation of pre-invasive breast cancer cells
Sandra Tavares, Andre Filipe Vieira, Anna Verena Taubenberger, Margarida Araujo, Nuno Pimpao Martins, Catarina Bras-Pereira, Antonio Polonia, Maik Herbig, Clara Barreto, et al.
NATURE COMMUNICATIONS 8 15237 (2017) | Journal
Studies of the role of actin in tumour progression have highlighted its key contribution in cell softening associated with cell invasion. Here, using a human breast cell line with conditional Src induction, we demonstrate that cells undergo a stiffening state prior to acquiring malignant features. This state is characterized by the transient accumulation of stress fibres and upregulation of Ena/VASP-like (EVL). EVL, in turn, organizes stress fibres leading to transient cell stiffening, ERK-dependent cell proliferation, as well as enhancement of Src activation and progression towards a fully transformed state. Accordingly, EVL accumulates predominantly in premalignant breast lesions and is required for Src-induced epithelial overgrowth in Drosophila. While cell softening allows for cancer cell invasion, our work reveals that stress fibre-mediated cell stiffening could drive tumour growth during premalignant stages. A careful consideration of the mechanical properties of tumour cells could therefore offer new avenues of exploration when designing cancer-targeting therapies.
Bone marrow niche-mimetics modulate HSPC function via integrin signaling
Martin Kraeter, Angela Jacobi, Oliver Otto, Stefanie Tietze, Katrin Mueller, David M. Poitz, Sandra Palm, Valentina M. Zinna, Ulrike Biehain, et al.
SCIENTIFIC REPORTS 7 2549 (2017) | Journal
The bone marrow (BM) microenvironment provides critical physical cues for hematopoietic stem and progenitor cell (HSPC) maintenance and fate decision mediated by cell-matrix interactions. However, the mechanisms underlying matrix communication and signal transduction are less well understood. Contrary, stem cell culture is mainly facilitated in suspension cultures. Here, we used bone marrow-mimetic decellularized extracellular matrix (ECM) scaffolds derived from mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) to study HSPC-ECM interaction. Seeding freshly isolated HSPCs adherent (AT) and non-adherent (SN) cells were found. We detected enhanced expansion and active migration of AT-cells mediated by ECM incorporated stromal derived factor one. Probing cell mechanics, AT-cells displayed naive cell deformation compared to SN-cells indicating physical recognition of ECM material properties by focal adhesion. Integrin alpha IIb (CD41), alpha V (CD51) and beta 3 (CD61) were found to be induced. Signaling focal contacts via ITG beta 3 were identified to facilitate cell adhesion, migration and mediate ECM-physical cues to modulate HSPC function.
Comparative study of cell mechanics methods
Pei-Hsun Wu, Dikla Raz-Ben Aroush, Atef Asnacios, Wei-Chiang Chen, Maxim Dokukin, Bryant L Doss, Pauline Durand, Andrew Ekpenyong, Jochen Guck, et al.
Nature methods 15(7) 491-498 (2018) | Journal
Cell mechanics controls important cellular and subcellular functions, including cell adhesion, migration, polarization, and differentiation, as well as organelle organization, and trafficking inside the cytoplasm. Yet, reported values of cell stiffness and viscosity vary strongly, suggesting disagreements. To address this issue and illustrate the complementarity of different instruments, we present, analyze, and critically compare measurements conducted by some of the most widelyused methods of cell mechanics: atomic force microscopy, magnetic twisting cytometry, particle-tracking microrheology, parallel-platesrheometry, cell monolayer rheology, and optical stretcher.These measurements highlight that elastic and viscous moduliofbreast cancer cell MCF-7 can vary 1,000 fold and 100fold,respectively. We discussthe sources ofthese variations,including the level of applied mechanical stress and rate of deformation, the geometry of the probe, the location probed in the cell, and the extracellular microenvironment.
Enlightening discriminative network functional modules behind Principal Component Analysis separation in differential-omic science studies
Sara Ciucci, Yan Ge, Claudio Duran, Alessandra Palladini, Victor Jimenez-Jimenez, Luisa Maria Martinez-Sanchez, Yuting Wang, Susanne Sales, Andrej Shevchenko, et al.
SCIENTIFIC REPORTS 7 43946 (2017) | Journal
Omic science is rapidly growing and one of the most employed techniques to explore differential patterns in omic datasets is principal component analysis (PCA). However, a method to enlighten the network of omic features that mostly contribute to the sample separation obtained by PCA is missing. An alternative is to build correlation networks between univariately-selected significant omic features, but this neglects the multivariate unsupervised feature compression responsible for the PCA sample segregation. Biologists and medical researchers often prefer effective methods that offer an immediate interpretation to complicated algorithms that in principle promise an improvement but in practice are difficult to be applied and interpreted. Here we present PC-corr: a simple algorithm that associates to any PCA segregation a discriminative network of features. Such network can be inspected in search of functional modules useful in the definition of combinatorial and multiscale biomarkers from multifaceted omic data in systems and precision biomedicine. We offer proofs of PC-corr efficacy on lipidomic, metagenomic, developmental genomic, population genetic, cancer promoteromic and cancer stem-cell mechanomic data. Finally, PC-corr is a general functional network inference approach that can be easily adopted for big data exploration in computer science and analysis of complex systems in physics.
High-throughput cell mechanical phenotyping for label-free titration assays of cytoskeletal modifications
Stefan Golfier, Philipp Rosendahl, Alexander Mietke, Maik Herbig, Jochen Guck, Oliver Otto
CYTOSKELETON 74(8) 283-296 (2017) | Journal
The mechanical fingerprint of cells is inherently linked to the structure of the cytoskeleton and can serve as a label-free marker for cell homeostasis or pathologic states. How cytoskeletal composition affects the physical response of cells to external loads has been intensively studied with a spectrum of techniques, yet quantitative and statistically powerful investigations in the form of titration assays are hampered by the low throughput of most available methods. In this study, we employ real-time deformability cytometry (RT-DC), a novel microfluidic tool to examine the effects of biochemically modified F-actin and microtubule stability and nuclear chromatin structure on cell deformation in a human leukemia cell line (HL60). The high throughput of our method facilitates extensive titration assays that allow for significance assessment of the observed effects and extraction of half-maximal concentrations for most of the applied reagents. We quantitatively show that integrity of the F-actin cortex and microtubule network dominate cell deformation on millisecond timescales probed with RT-DC. Drug-induced alterations in the nuclear chromatin structure were not found to consistently affect cell deformation. The sensitivity of the high-throughput cell mechanical measurements to the cytoskeletal modifications we present in this study opens up new possibilities for label-free dose-response assays of cytoskeletal modifications.
Initiation of acute graft-versus-host disease by angiogenesis
Katarina Riesner, Yu Shi, Angela Jacobi, Martin Kraeter, Martina Kalupa, Aleixandria McGearey, Sarah Mertlitz, Steffen Cordes, Jens-Florian Schrezenmeier, et al.
BLOOD 129(14) 2021-2032 (2017) | Journal
The inhibition of inflammation-associated angiogenesis ameliorates inflammatory diseases by reducing the recruitment of tissue-infiltrating leukocytes. However, it is not known if angiogenesis has an active role during the initiation of inflammation or if it is merely a secondary effect occurring in response to stimuli by tissue-infiltrating leukocytes. Here, we show that angiogenesis precedes leukocyte infiltration in experimental models of inflammatory bowel disease and acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). We found that angiogenesis occurred as early as day12 after allogeneic transplantation mainly in GVHD typical target organs skin, liver, and intestines, whereas no angiogenic changes appeared due to conditioning or syngeneic transplantation. The initiation phase of angiogenesis was not associated with classical endothelial cell (EC) activation signs, such as Vegfa/VEGFR112 upregulation or increased adhesion molecule expression. During early GVHD at day12, we found significant metabolic and cytoskeleton changes in target organ ECs in gene array and proteomic analyses. These modifications have significant functional consequences as indicated by profoundly higher deformation in real-time deformability cytometry. Our results demonstrate that metabolic changes trigger alterations in cell mechanics, leading to enhanced migratory and proliferative potential of ECs during the initiation of inflammation. Our study adds evidence to the hypothesis that angiogenesis is involved in the initiation of tissue inflammation during GVHD.
Mechanical deformation induces depolarization of neutrophils
Andrew E. Ekpenyong, Nicole Toepfner, Christine Fiddler, Maik Herbig, Wenhong Li, Gheorghe Cojoc, Charlotte Summers, Jochen Guck, Edwin R. Chilvers
SCIENCE ADVANCES 3(6) e1602536 (2017) | Journal
The transition of neutrophils from a resting state to a primed state is an essential requirement for their function as competent immune cells. This transition can be caused not only by chemical signals but also by mechanical perturbation. After cessation of either, these cells gradually revert to a quiescent state over 40 to 120 min. We use two biophysical tools, an optical stretcher and a novel microcirculation mimetic, to effect physiologically relevant mechanical deformations of single nonadherent human neutrophils. We establish quantitative morphological analysis and mechanical phenotyping as label-free markers of neutrophil priming. We show that continued mechanical deformation of primed cells can cause active depolarization, which occurs two orders of magnitude faster than by spontaneous depriming. This work provides a cellular-level mechanism that potentially explains recent clinical studies demonstrating the potential importance, and physiological role, of neutrophil depriming in vivo and the pathophysiological implications when this deactivation is impaired, especially in disorders such as acute lung injury.
Mechanical mismatch between Ras transformed and untransformed epithelial cells
Corinne Gullekson, Gheorghe Cojoc, Mirjam Schuermann, Jochen Guck, Andrew Pelling
SOFT MATTER 13(45) 8483-8491 (2017) | Journal
The organization of the actin cytoskeleton plays a key role in regulating cell mechanics. It is fundamentally altered during transformation, affecting how cells interact with their environment. We investigated mechanical properties of cells expressing constitutively active, oncogenic Ras (Ras(V12)) in adherent and suspended states. To do this, we utilized atomic force microscopy and a microfluidic optical stretcher. We found that adherent cells stiffen and suspended cells soften with the expression of constitutively active Ras. The effect on adherent cells was reversed when contractility was inhibited with the ROCK inhibitor Y-27632, resulting in softer Ras(V12) cells. Our findings suggest that increased ROCK activity as a result of Ras has opposite effects on suspended and adhered cells. Our results also establish the importance of the activation of ROCK by Ras and its effect on cell mechanics.
Mechanical Strain Promotes Oligodendrocyte Differentiation by Global Changes of Gene Expression
Anna Jagielska, Alexis L. Lowe, Ekta Makhija, Liliana Wroblewska, Jochen Guck, Robin J. M. Franklin, G. V. Shivashankar, Krystyn J. Van Vliet
FRONTIERS IN CELLULAR NEUROSCIENCE 11 93 (2017) | Journal
Differentiation of oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPC) to oligodendrocytes and subsequent axon myelination are critical steps in vertebrate central nervous system (CNS) development and regeneration. Growing evidence supports the significance of mechanical factors in oligodendrocyte biology. Here, we explore the effect of mechanical strains within physiological range on OPC proliferation and differentiation, and strain-associated changes in chromatin structure, epigenetics, and gene expression. Sustained tensile strain of 10-15% inhibited OPC proliferation and promoted differentiation into oligodendrocytes. This response to strain required specific interactions of OPCs with extracellular matrix ligands. Applied strain induced changes in nuclear shape, chromatin organization, and resulted in enhanced histone deacetylation, consistent with increased oligodendrocyte differentiation. This response was concurrent with increased mRNA levels of the epigenetic modifier histone deacetylase Hdac11. Inhibition of HDAC proteins eliminated the strain-mediated increase of OPC differentiation, demonstrating a role of HDACs in mechanotransduction of strain to chromatin. RNA sequencing revealed global changes in gene expression associated with strain. Specifically, expression of multiple genes associated with oligodendrocyte differentiation and axon-oligodendrocyte interactions was increased, including cell surface ligands (Ncam, ephrins), cyto-and nucleo-skeleton genes (Fyn, actinins, myosin, nesprin, Sun1), transcription factors (Sox10, Zfp191, Nkx2.2), and myelin genes (Cnp, Plp, Mag). These findings show how mechanical strain can be transmitted to the nucleus to promote oligodendrocyte differentiation, and identify the global landscape of signaling pathways involved in mechanotransduction. These data provide a source of potential new therapeutic avenues to enhance OPC differentiation in vivo.
Niche WNT5A regulates the actin cytoskeleton during regeneration of hematopoietic stem cells
Christina Schreck, Rouzanna Istvanffy, Christoph Ziegenhain, Theresa Sippenauer, Franziska Ruf, Lynette Henkel, Florian Gaertner, Beate Vieth, M. Carolina Florian, et al.
JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL MEDICINE 214(1) 165-181 (2017) | Journal
Here, we show that the Wnt5a-haploinsufficient niche regenerates dysfunctional HSCs, which do not successfully engraft in secondary recipients. RNA sequencing of the regenerated donor Lin(-)SCA-1(+) KIT+ (LSK) cells shows dysregulated expression of ZEB1-associated genes involved in the small GTPase-dependent actin polymerization pathway. Misexpression of DOCK2, WAVE2, and activation of CDC42 results in apolar F-actin localization, leading to defects in adhesion, migration and homing of HSCs regenerated in a Wnt5a-haploinsufficient microenvironment. Moreover, these cells show increased differentiation in vitro, with rapid loss of HSC-enriched LSK cells. Our study further shows that the Wnt5a-haploinsufficient environment similarly affects BCR-ABLp(185) leukemia-initiating cells, which fail to generate leukemia in 42% of the studied recipients, or to transfer leukemia to secondary hosts. Thus, we show that WNT5A in the bone marrow niche is required to regenerate HSCs and leukemic cells with functional ability to rearrange the actin cytoskeleton and engraft successfully.
Numerical Simulation of Real-Time Deformability Cytometry To Extract Cell Mechanical Properties
M. Mokbel, D. Mokbel, A. Mietke, N. Traeber, S. Girardo, O. Otto, Jochen Guck, S. Aland
ACS BIOMATERIALS SCIENCE & ENGINEERING 3(11 SI) 2962-2973 (2017) | Journal
The measurement of cell stiffness is an important part of biological research with diverse applications in biology, biotechnology and medicine. Real-time deformability cytometry (RT-DC) is a new method to probe cell stiffness at high throughput by flushing cells through a microfluidic channel where cell-deformation provides an indicator for cell stiffness (Otto et al. Real-time deformability cytometry: on-the-fly cell 725 mechanical phenotyping. Nat. Methods 2015, 12, 199-202). Here, we propose a full numerical model for single cells in a flow channel to quantitatively relate cell deformation to mechanical parameters. Thereby the cell is modeled as a viscoelastic material surrounded by a thin shell cortex, subject to bending stiffness and cortical surface tension. For small deformations our results show good agreement with a previously developed analytical model that neglects the influence of cell deformation on the fluid flow (Mietke et al. Extracting Cell Stiffness from Real Time Deformability Cytometry: 728 Theory and Experiment. Biophys. J. 2015, 109, 2023-2036). Including linear elasticity as well as neo-Hookean hyperelasticity, our model is valid in a wide range of cell deformations and allows to extract cell stiffness for largely deformed cells. We introduce a new measure for cell deformation that is capable to distinguish between deformation effects stemming from cell cortex and cell bulk elasticity. Finally, we demonstrate the potential of the method to simultaneously quantify multiple mechanical cell parameters by RT-DC.
Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte-binding antigen 175 triggers a biophysical change in the red blood cell that facilitates invasion
Marion Koch, Katherine E. Wright, Oliver Otto, Maik Herbig, Nichole D. Salinas, Niraj H. Tolia, Timothy J. Satchwell, Jochen Guck, Nicholas J. Brooks, et al.
PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 114(16) 4225-4230 (2017) | Journal
Invasion of the red blood cell (RBC) by the Plasmodium parasite defines the start of malaria disease pathogenesis. To date, experimental investigations into invasion have focused predominantly on the role of parasite adhesins or signaling pathways and the identity of binding receptors on the red cell surface. A potential role for signaling pathways within the erythrocyte, which might alter red cell biophysical properties to facilitate invasion, has largely been ignored. The parasite erythrocyte-binding antigen 175 (EBA175), a protein required for entry in most parasite strains, plays a key role by binding to glycophorin A (GPA) on the red cell surface, although the function of this binding interaction is unknown. Here, using real-time deformability cytometry and flicker spectroscopy to define biophysical properties of the erythrocyte, we show that EBA175 binding to GPA leads to an increase in the cytoskeletal tension of the red cell and a reduction in the bending modulus of the cell's membrane. We isolate the changes in the cytoskeleton and membrane and show that reduction in the bending modulus is directly correlated with parasite invasion efficiency. These data strongly imply that the malaria parasite primes the erythrocyte surface through its binding antigens, altering the biophysical nature of the target cell and thus reducing a critical energy barrier to invasion. This finding would constitute a major change in our concept of malaria parasite invasion, suggesting it is, in fact, a balance between parasite and host cell physical forces working together to facilitate entry.
Roadmap for optofluidics
Paolo Minzioni, Roberto Osellame, Cinzia Sada, S. Zhao, F. G. Omenetto, Kristinn B. Gylfason, Tommy Haraldsson, Yibo Zhang, Aydogan Ozcan, et al.
JOURNAL OF OPTICS 19(9) 093003 (2017) | Journal
Optofluidics, nominally the research area where optics and fluidics merge, is a relatively new research field and it is only in the last decade that there has been a large increase in the number of optofluidic. applications, as well as in the number of research groups, devoted to the topic. Nowadays optofluidics applications include, without being limited to, lab-on-a-chip devices, fluid-based and controlled lenses, optical sensors for fluids and for suspended particles, biosensors, imaging tools, etc. The long list of potential optofluidics applications, which have been recently demonstrated, suggests that optofluidic technologies will become more and more common in everyday life in the future, causing a significant impact on many aspects of our society. A characteristic of this research field, deriving from both its interdisciplinary origin and applications, is that in order to develop suitable solutions a. combination of a deep knowledge in different fields, ranging from materials science to photonics, from microfluidics to molecular biology and biophysics,. is often required. As a direct consequence, also being able to understand the long-term evolution of optofluidics research is not. easy. In this article, we report several expert contributions on different topics. so as to provide guidance for young scientists. At the same time, we hope that this document will also prove useful for funding institutions and stakeholders. to better understand the perspectives and opportunities offered by this research field.
Single-cell mechanical phenotype is an intrinsic marker of reprogramming and differentiation along the mouse neural lineage
Marta Urbanska, Maria Winzi, Katrin Neumann, Shada Abuhattum, Philipp Rosendahl, Paul Mueller, Anna Taubenberger, Konstantinos Anastassiadis, Jochen Guck
Development 144(23 SI) 4313-4321 (2017) | Journal
Cellular reprogramming is a dedifferentiation process during which cells continuously undergo phenotypical remodeling. Although the genetic and biochemical details of this remodeling are fairly well understood, little is known about the change in cell mechanical properties during the process. In this study, we investigated changes in the mechanical phenotype of murine fetal neural progenitor cells (fNPCs) during reprogramming to induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). We find that fNPCs become progressively stiffer en route to pluripotency, and that this stiffening is mirrored by iPSCs becoming more compliant during differentiation towards the neural lineage. Furthermore, we show that the mechanical phenotype of iPSCs is comparable with that of embryonic stem cells. These results suggest that mechanical properties of cells are inherent to their developmental stage. They also reveal that pluripotent cells can differentiate towards a more compliant phenotype, which challenges the view that pluripotent stem cells are less stiff than any cells more advanced developmentally. Finally, our study indicates that the cell mechanical phenotype might be utilized as an inherent biophysical marker of pluripotent stem cells.
Three-dimensional correlative single-cell imaging utilizing fluorescence and refractive index tomography
Mirjam Schuermann, Gheorghe Cojoc, Salvatore Girardo, Elke Ulbricht, Jochen Guck, Paul Mueller
Journal of Biophotonics 11(3) UNSP e201700145 (2017) | Journal
Cells alter the path of light, a fact that leads to well-known aberrations in single cell or tissue imaging. Optical diffraction tomography (ODT) measures the biophysical property that causes these aberrations, the refractive index (RI). ODT is complementary to fluorescence imaging and does not require any markers. The present study introduces RI and fluorescence tomography with optofluidic rotation (RAFTOR) of suspended cells, facilitating the segmentation of the 3D-correlated RI and fluorescence data for a quantitative interpretation of the nuclear RI. The technique is validated with cell phantoms and used to confirm a lower nuclear RI for HL60 cells. Furthermore, the nuclear inversion of adult mouse photoreceptor cells is observed in the RI distribution. The applications shown confirm predictions of previous studies and illustrate the potential of RAFTOR to improve our understanding of cells and tissues.
V-ATPase inhibition increases cancer cell stiffness and blocks membrane related Ras signaling - a new option for HCC therapy
Karin Bartel, Maria Winzi, Melanie Ulrich, Andreas Koeberle, Dirk Menche, Oliver Werz, Rolf Mueller, Jochen Guck, Angelika M. Vollmar, et al.
ONCOTARGET 8(6) 9476-9487 (2017) | Journal
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the fifth most frequent cancer worldwide and the third leading cause of cancer-related death. However, therapy options are limited leaving an urgent need to develop new strategies. Currently, targeting cancer cell lipid and cholesterol metabolism is gaining interest especially regarding HCC. High cholesterol levels support proliferation, membrane-related mitogenic signaling and increase cell softness, leading to tumor progression, malignancy and invasive potential. However, effective ways to target cholesterol metabolism for cancer therapy are still missing. The V-ATPase inhibitor archazolid was recently shown to interfere with cholesterol metabolism. In our study, we report a novel therapeutic potential of V-ATPase inhibition in HCC by altering the mechanical phenotype of cancer cells leading to reduced proliferative signaling. Archazolid causes cellular depletion of free cholesterol leading to an increase in cell stiffness and membrane polarity of cancer cells, while hepatocytes remain unaffected. The altered membrane composition decreases membrane fluidity and leads to an inhibition of membrane-related Ras signaling resulting decreased proliferation in vitro and in vivo. V-ATPase inhibition represents a novel link between cell biophysical properties and proliferative signaling selectively in malignant HCC cells, providing the basis for an attractive and innovative strategy against HCC.
Volume Transitions of Isolated Cell Nuclei Induced by Rapid Temperature Increase
Chii J. Chan, Wenhong Li, Gheorghe Cojoc, Jochen Guck
BIOPHYSICAL JOURNAL 112(6) 1063-1076 (2017) | Journal
Understanding the physical mechanisms governing nuclear mechanics is important as it can impact gene expression and development. However, how cell nuclei respond to external cues such as heat is not well understood. Here, we studied the material properties of isolated nuclei in suspension using an optical stretcher. We demonstrate that isolated nuclei regulate their volume in a highly temperature-sensitive manner. At constant temperature, isolated nuclei behaved like passive, elastic and incompressible objects, whose volume depended on the pH and ionic conditions. When the temperature was increased suddenly by even a few degrees Kelvin, nuclei displayed a repeatable and reversible temperature-induced volume transition, whose sign depended on the valency of the solvent. Such phenomenon is not observed for nuclei subjected to slow heating. The transition temperature could be shifted by adiabatic changes of the ambient temperature, and the magnitude of temperature-induced volume transition could be modulated by modifying the chromatin compaction state and remodeling processes. Our findings reveal that the cell nucleus can be viewed as a highly charged polymer gel with intriguing thermoresponsive properties, which might play a role in nuclear volume regulation and thermosensing in living cells.
3D extracellular matrix interactions modulate tumour cell growth, invasion and angiogenesis in engineered tumour microenvironments
Anna V. Taubenberger, Laura J. Bray, Barbara Haller, Artem Shaposhnykov, Marcus Binner, Uwe Freudenberg, Jochen Guck, Carsten Werner
ACTA BIOMATERIALIA 36 73-85 (2016) | Journal
Interactions between tumour cells and extracellular matrix proteins of the tumour microenvironment play crucial roles in cancer progression. So far, however, there are only a few experimental platforms available that allow us to study these interactions systematically in a mechanically defined three-dimensional (3D) context. Here, we have studied the effect of integrin binding motifs found within common extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins on 3D breast (MCF-7) and prostate (PC-3, LNCaP) cancer cell cultures and co-cultures with endothelial and mesenchymal stromal cells. For this purpose, matrix metalloproteinase-degradable biohybrid poly(ethylene) glycol-heparin hydrogels were decorated with the peptide motifs RGD, GFOGER (collagen I), or IKVAV (laminin-111). Over 14 days, cancer spheroids of 100-200 mu m formed. While the morphology of poorly invasive MCF-7 and LNCaP cells was not modulated by any of the peptide motifs, the aggressive PC-3 cells exhibited an invasive morphology when cultured in hydrogels comprising IKVAV and GFOGER motifs compared to RGD motifs or nonfunctionalised controls. PC-3 (but not MCF-7 and LNCaP) cell growth and endothelial cell infiltration were also significantly enhanced in IKVAV and GFOGER presenting gels. Taken together, we have established a 3D culture model that allows for dissecting the effect of biochemical cues on processes relevant to early cancer progression. These findings provide a basis for more mechanistic studies that may further advance our understanding of how ECM modulates cancer cell invasion and how to ultimately interfere with this process.<br> Statement of Significance<br> Threedimensional in vitro cancer models have generated great interest over the past decade. However, most models are not suitable to systematically study the effects of environmental cues on cancer development and progression. To overcome this limitation, we have developed an innovative hydrogel platform to study the interactions between breast and prostate cancer cells and extracellular matrix ligands relevant to the tumour microenvironment. Our results show that hydrogels with laminin- and collagen-derived adhesive peptides induce a malignant phenotype in a cell-line specific manner. Thus, we have identified a method to control the incorporation of biochemical cues within a three dimensional culture model and anticipate that it will help us in better understanding the effects of the tumour microenvironment on cancer progression. (C) 2016 Acta Materialia Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
A Nanoprinted Model of Interstitial Cancer Migration Reveals a Link between Cell Deformability and Proliferation
Magdalini Panagiotakopoulou, Martin Bergert, Anna Taubenberger, Jochen Guck, Dimos Poulikakos, Aldo Ferrari
ACS NANO 10(7) 6437-6448 (2016) | Journal
Metastatic progression of tumors requires the coordinated dissemination of cancerous cells through interstitial tissues and their replication in distant body locations. Despite their importance in cancer treatment decisions, key factors, such as cell shape adaptation and the role it plays in dense tissue invasion by cancerous cells, are not well understood. Here, we employ a 3D electrohydrodynamic nanoprinting technology to generate vertical arrays of topographical pores that mimic interstitial tissue resistance to the mesenchymal migration of cancerous cells, in order to determine the effect of nuclear size, cell deformability, and cell-to-substrate adhesion on tissue invasion efficiency. The high spatial and temporal resolution of our analysis demonstrates that the ability of cells to deform depends on the cell cycle phase, peaks immediately after mitosis, and is key to the invasion process. Increased pore penetration efficiency by cells in early GI phase also coincided with their lower nuclear volume and higher cell deformability, compared with the later cell cycle stages. Furthermore, artificial decondensation of chromatin induced an increase in cell and nuclear deformability and improved pore penetration efficiency of cells in Gl. Together, these results underline that along the cell cycle cells have different abilities to dynamically remodel their actin cytoskeleton and induce nuclear shape changes, which determines their pore penetration efficiency. Thus, our results support a mechanism in which cell proliferation and pore penetration are functionally linked to favor the interstitial dissemination of metastatic cells.
A pH-driven transition of the cytoplasm from a fluid- to a solid-like state promotes entry into dormancy
Matthias Christoph Munder, Daniel Midtvedt, Titus Franzmann, Elisabeth Nueske, Oliver Otto, Maik Herbig, Elke Ulbricht, Paul Mueller, Anna Taubenberger, et al.
eLife 5 e09347 (2016) | Journal
Cells can enter into a dormant state when faced with unfavorable conditions. However, how cells enter into and recover from this state is still poorly understood. Here, we study dormancy in different eukaryotic organisms and find it to be associated with a significant decrease in the mobility of organelles and foreign tracer particles. We show that this reduced mobility is caused by an influx of protons and a marked acidification of the cytoplasm, which leads to widespread macromolecular assembly of proteins and triggers a transition of the cytoplasm to a solid-like state with increased mechanical stability. We further demonstrate that this transition is required for cellular survival under conditions of starvation. Our findings have broad implications for understanding alternative physiological states, such as quiescence and dormancy, and create a new view of the cytoplasm as an adaptable fluid that can reversibly transition into a protective solid-like state.
Brain tissue stiffness is a sensitive marker for acidosis
Kathrin Holtzmann, Helene O. B. Gautier, Andreas F. Christ, Jochen Guck, Ragnhildur Thora Karadottir, Kristian Franze
JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE METHODS 271 50-54 (2016) | Journal
Background: Carbon dioxide overdose is frequently used to cull rodents for tissue harvesting. However, this treatment may lead to respiratory acidosis, which potentially could change the properties of the investigated tissue.<br> New method: Mechanical tissue properties often change in pathological conditions and may thus offer a sensitive generic readout for changes in biological tissues with clinical relevance. In this study, we performed force-indentation measurements with an atomic force microscope on acute cerebellar slices from adult rats to test if brain tissue undergoes changes following overexposure to CO2 compared to other methods of euthanasia.<br> Results: The pH significantly decreased in brain tissue of animals exposed to CO2. Concomitant with the drop in pH, cerebellar grey matter significantly stiffened. Tissue stiffening was reproduced by incubation of acute cerebellar slices in acidic medium.<br> Comparison with existing methods: Tissue stiffness provides an early, generic indicator for pathophysiological changes in the CNS. Atomic force microscopy offers unprecedented high spatial resolution to detect such changes.<br> Conclusions: Our results indicate that the stiffness particularly of grey matter strongly correlates with changes of the pH in the cerebellum. Furthermore, the method of tissue harvesting and preparation may not only change tissue stiffness but very likely also other physiologically relevant parameters, highlighting the importance of appropriate sample preparation. (C) 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V.
Cell nuclei have lower refractive index and mass density than cytoplasm
Mirjam Schuermann, Jana Scholze, Paul Mueller, Jochen Guck, Chii J. Chan
JOURNAL OF BIOPHOTONICS 9(10) 1068-1076 (2016) | Journal
Common perception regards the nucleus as a densely packed object with higher refractive index (RI) and mass density than the surrounding cytoplasm. Here, the volume of isolated nuclei is systematically varied by electrostatic and osmotic conditions as well as drug treatments that modify chromatin conformation. The refractive index and dry mass of isolated nuclei is derived from quantitative phase measurements using digital holographic microscopy (DHM). Surprisingly, the cell nucleus is found to have a lower RI and mass density than the cytoplasm in four different cell lines and throughout the cell cycle. This result has important implications for conceptualizing light tissue interactions as well as biological processes in cells.
Chemotherapy impedes in vitro microcirculation and promotes migration of leukemic cells with impact on metastasis
Sruti V. Prathivadhi-Bhayankaram, Jianhao Ning, Michael Mimlitz, Carolyn Taylor, Erin Gross, Michael Nichols, Jochen Guck, Andrew E. Ekpenyong
BIOCHEMICAL AND BIOPHYSICAL RESEARCH COMMUNICATIONS 479(4) 841-846 (2016) | Journal
Although most cancer drugs target the proliferation of cancer cells, it is metastasis, the complex process by which cancer cells spread from the primary tumor to other tissues and organs of the body where they form new tumors, that leads to over 90% of all cancer deaths. Thus, there is an urgent need for anti metastasis therapy. Surprisingly, emerging evidence suggests that certain anti-cancer drugs such as paclitaxel and doxorubicin can actually promote metastasis, but the mechanism(s) behind their pro metastatic effects are still unclear. Here, we use a microfluidic microcirculation mimetic (MMM) platform which mimics the capillary constrictions of the pulmonary and peripheral microcirculation, to determine if in-vivo-like mechanical stimuli can evoke different responses from cells subjected to various cancer drugs. In particular, we show that leukemic cancer cells treated with doxorubicin and daunorubicin, commonly used anti-cancer drugs, have over 100% longer transit times through the device, compared to untreated leukemic cells. Such delays in the microcirculation are known to promote extravasation of cells, a key step in the metastatic cascade. Furthermore, we report a significant (p < 0.01) increase in the chemotactic migration of the doxorubicin treated leukemic cells. Both enhanced retention in the microcirculation and enhanced migration following chemotherapy, are pro-metastatic effects which can serve as new targets for anti-metastatic drugs. (C) 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Materials and technologies for soft implantable neuroprostheses
Stephanie P. Lacour, Gregoire Courtine, Jochen Guck
NATURE REVIEWS MATERIALS 1(10) UNSP 16063 (2016) | Journal
Implantable neuroprostheses are engineered systems designed to restore or substitute function for individuals with neurological deficits or disabilities. These systems involve at least one uni-or bidirectional interface between a living neural tissue and a synthetic structure, through which information in the form of electrons, ions or photons flows. Despite a few notable exceptions, the clinical dissemination of implantable neuroprostheses remains limited, because many implants display inconsistent long-term stability and performance, and are ultimately rejected by the body. Intensive research is currently being conducted to untangle the complex interplay of failure mechanisms. In this Review, we emphasize the importance of minimizing the physical and mechanical mismatch between neural tissues and implantable interfaces. We explore possible materials solutions to design and manufacture neurointegrated prostheses, and outline their immense therapeutic potential.
Mechanical phenotyping of primary human skeletal stem cells in heterogeneous populations by real-time deformability cytometry
Miguel Xavier, Philipp Rosendahl, Maik Herbig, Martin Kraeter, Daniel Spencer, Martin Bornhaeuser, Richard O. C. Oreffo, Hywel Morgan, Jochen Guck, et al.
INTEGRATIVE BIOLOGY 8(5) 616-623 (2016) | Journal
Skeletal stem cells (SSCs) are a sub-population of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) present in bone marrow with multipotent differentiation potential. A current unmet challenge hampering their clinical translation remains the isolation of homogeneous populations of SSCs, in vitro, with consistent regeneration and differentiation capacities. Cell stiffness has been shown to play an important role in cell separation using microfluidic techniques such as inertial focusing or deterministic lateral displacement. Here we report that the mechanical properties of SSCs, and of a surrogate human osteosarcoma cell line (MG-63), differ significantly from other cell populations found in the bone marrow. Using real-time deformability cytometry, a recently introduced method for cell mechanical characterization, we demonstrate that both MG-63 and SSCs are stiffer than the three primary leukocyte lineages (lymphocytes, monocytes and granulocytes) and also stiffer than HL-60, a human leukemic progenitor cell line. In addition, we show that SSCs form a mechanically distinct sub-population of MSCs. These results represent an important step towards finding the bio-physical fingerprint of human SSCs that will allow their label-free separation from bone marrow with significant physiological and therapeutic implications.
Mechanosensing is critical for axon growth in the developing brain
David E. Koser, Amelia J. Thompson, Sarah K. Foster, Asha Dwivedy, Eva K. Pillai, Graham K. Sheridan, Hanno Svoboda, Matheus Viana, Luciano da F. Costa, et al.
NATURE NEUROSCIENCE 19(12) 1592-1598 (2016) | Journal
During nervous system development, neurons extend axons along well-defined pathways. The current understanding of axon pathfinding is based mainly on chemical signaling. However, growing neurons interact not only chemically but also mechanically with their environment. Here we identify mechanical signals as important regulators of axon pathfinding. In vitro, substrate stiffness determined growth patterns of Xenopus retinal ganglion cell axons. In vivo atomic force microscopy revealed a noticeable pattern of stiffness gradients in the embryonic brain. Retinal ganglion cell axons grew toward softer tissue, which was reproduced in vitro in the absence of chemical gradients. To test the importance of mechanical signals for axon growth in vivo, we altered brain stiffness, blocked mechanotransduction pharmacologically and knocked down the mechanosensitive ion channel piezol. All treatments resulted in aberrant axonal growth and pathfinding errors, suggesting that local tissue stiffness, read out by mechanosensitive ion channels, is critically involved in instructing neuronal growth in vivo.
The F-actin modifier villin regulates insulin granule dynamics and exocytosis downstream of islet cell autoantigen 512
Hassan Mziaut, Bernard Mulligan, Peter Hoboth, Oliver Otto, Anna Ivanova, Maik Herbig, Desiree Schumann, Tobias Hildebrandt, Jaber Dehghany, et al.
MOLECULAR METABOLISM 5(8) 656-668 (2016) | Journal
Objective: Insulin release from pancreatic islet beta cells should be tightly controlled to avoid hypoglycemia and insulin resistance. The cortical actin cytoskeleton is a gate for regulated exocytosis of insulin secretory granules (SGs) by restricting their mobility and access to the plasma membrane. Prior studies suggest that SGs interact with F-actin through their transmembrane cargo islet cell autoantigen 512 (Ica512) (also known as islet antigen 2/Ptprn). Here we investigated how Ica512 modulates SG trafficking and exocytosis.<br> Methods: Transcriptomic changes in Ica512(-/-) mouse islets were analyzed. Imaging as well as biophysical and biochemical methods were used to validate if and how the Ica512-regulated gene villin modulates insulin secretion in mouse islets and insulinoma cells.<br> Results: The F-actin modifier villin was consistently downregulated in Ica512(-/-) mouse islets and in Ica512-depleted insulinoma cells. Villin was enriched at the cell cortex of beta cells and dispersed villin(-/-) islet cells were less round and less deformable. Basal mobility of SGs in villin-depleted cells was enhanced. Moreover, in cells depleted either of villin or Ica512 F-actin cages restraining cortical SGs were enlarged, basal secretion was increased while glucose-stimulated insulin release was blunted. The latter changes were reverted by overexpressing villin in Ica512-depleted cells, but not vice versa.<br> Conclusion: Our findings show that villin controls the size of the F-actin cages restricting SGs and, thus, regulates their dynamics and availability for exocytosis. Evidence that villin acts downstream of Ica512 also indicates that SGs directly influence the remodeling properties of the cortical actin cytoskeleton for tight control of insulin secretion. (C) 2016 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier GmbH. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).
A monolithic glass chip for active single-cell sorting based on mechanical phenotyping
Christoph Faigle, Franziska Lautenschlaeger, Graeme Whyte, Philip Homewood, Estela Martin-Badosa, Jochen Guck
LAB ON A CHIP 15(5) 1267-1275 (2015) | Journal
The mechanical properties of biological cells have long been considered as inherent markers of biological function and disease. However, the screening and active sorting of heterogeneous populations based on serial single-cell mechanical measurements has not been demonstrated. Here we present a novel monolithic glass chip for combined fluorescence detection and mechanical phenotyping using an optical stretcher. A new design and manufacturing process, involving the bonding of two asymmetrically etched glass plates, combines exact optical fiber alignment, low laser damage threshold and high imaging quality with the possibility of several microfluidic inlet and outlet channels. We show the utility of such a custom-built optical stretcher glass chip by measuring and sorting single cells in a heterogeneous population based on their different mechanical properties and verify sorting accuracy by simultaneous fluorescence detection. This offers new possibilities of exact characterization and sorting of small populations based on rheological properties for biological and biomedical applications.
Association of the EGF-TM7 receptor CD97 expression with FLT3-ITD in acute myeloid leukemia
Manja Wobus, Martin Bornhaeuser, Angela Jacobi, Martin Kraeter, Oliver Otto, Claudia Ortlepp, Jochen Guck, Gerhard Ehninger, Christian Thiede, et al.
ONCOTARGET 6(36) 38804-38815 (2015) | Journal
Internal tandem duplications within the juxtamembrane region of the FMS-like tyrosine kinase receptor FLT3 (FLT3-ITD) represents one of the most common mutations in patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) which results in constitutive aberrant activation, increased proliferation of leukemic progenitors and is associated with an aggressive clinical phenotype. The expression of CD97, an EGF-TM7 receptor, has been linked to invasive behavior in thyroid and colorectal cancer. Here, we have investigated the association of CD97 with FLT3-ITD and its functional consequences in AML.<br> Higher CD97 expression levels have been detected in 208 out of 385 primary AML samples. This was accompanied by a significantly increased bone marrow blast count as well as by mutations in the FLT3 gene. FLT3-ITD expressing cell lines as MV4-11 and MOLM-13 revealed significantly higher CD97 levels than FLT3 wildtype EOL-1, OCI-AML3 and HL-60 cells which were clearly decreased by the tyrosine kinase inhibitors PKC412 and SU5614. CD97 knock down by short hairpin RNA in MV4-11 cells resulted in inhibited trans-well migration towards fetal calf serum (FCS) and lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) being at least in part Rho-A dependent. Moreover, knock down of CD97 led to an altered mechanical phenotype, reduced adhesion to a stromal layer and lower wildtype FLT3 expression.<br> Our results, thus, constitute the first evidence for the functional relevance of CD97 expression in FLT3-ITD AML cells rendering it a potential new theragnostic target.
Deformation of phospholipid vesicles in an optical stretcher
Ulysse Delabre, Kasper Feld, Eleonore Crespo, Graeme Whyte, Cecile Sykes, Udo Seifert, Jochen Guck
SOFT MATTER 11(30) 6075-6088 (2015) | Journal
Phospholipid vesicles are common model systems for cell membranes. Important aspects of the membrane function relate to its mechanical properties. Here we have investigated the deformation behaviour of phospholipid vesicles in a dual-beam laser trap, also called an optical stretcher. This study explicitly makes use of the inherent heating present in such traps to investigate the dependence of vesicle deformation on temperature. By using lasers with different wavelengths, optically induced mechanical stresses and temperature increase can be tuned fairly independently with a single setup. The phase transition temperature of vesicles can be clearly identified by an increase in deformation. In the case of no heating effects, a minimal model for drop deformation in an optical stretcher and a more specific model for vesicle deformation that takes explicitly into account the angular dependence of the optical stress are presented to account for the experimental results. Elastic constants are extracted from the fitting procedures, which agree with literature data. This study demonstrates the utility of optical stretching, which is easily combined with microfluidic delivery, for the future serial, high-throughput study of the mechanical and thermodynamic properties of phospholipid vesicles.
Extracting Cell Stiffness from Real-Time Deformability Cytometry: Theory and Experiment
Alexander Mietke, Oliver Otto, Salvatore Girardo, Philipp Rosendahl, Anna Taubenberger, Stefan Golfier, Elke Ulbricht, Sebastian Aland, Jochen Guck, et al.
BIOPHYSICAL JOURNAL 109(10) 2023-2036 (2015) | Journal
Cell stiffness is a sensitive indicator of physiological and pathological changes in cells, with many potential applications in biology and medicine. A new method, real-time deformability cytometry, probes cell stiffness at high throughput by exposing cells to a shear flow in a microfluidic channel, allowing for mechanical phenotyping based on single-cell deformability. However, observed deformations of cells in the channel not only are determined by cell stiffness, but also depend on cell size relative to channel size. Here, we disentangle mutual contributions of cell size and cell stiffness to cell deformation by a theoretical analysis in terms of hydrodynamics and linear elasticity theory. Performing real-time deformability cytometry experiments on both model spheres of known elasticity and biological cells, we demonstrate that our analytical model not only predicts deformed shapes inside the channel but also allows for quantification of cell mechanical parameters. Thereby, fast and quantitative mechanical sampling of large cell populations becomes feasible.
Mechanotransduction in neutrophil activation and deactivation
Andrew E. Ekpenyong, Nicole Toepfner, Edwin R. Chilvers, Jochen Guck
BIOCHIMICA ET BIOPHYSICA ACTA-MOLECULAR CELL RESEARCH 1853(11 SI) 3105-3116 (2015) | Journal
Mechanotransduction refers to the processes through which cells sense mechanical stimuli by converting them to biochemical signals and, thus, eliciting specific cellular responses. Cells sense mechanical stimuli from their 3D environment, including the extracellular matrix, neighboring cells and other mechanical forces. Incidentally, the emerging concept of mechanical homeostasis,long term or chronic regulation of mechanical properties, seems to apply to neutrophils in a peculiar manner, owing to neutrophils' ability to dynamically switch between the activated/primed and deactivated/deprimed states. While neutrophil activation has been known for over a century, its deactivation is a relatively recent discovery. Even more intriguing is the reversibility of neutrophil activation and deactivation. We review and critically evaluate recent findings that suggest physiological roles for neutrophil activation and deactivation and discuss possible mechanisms by which mechanical stimuli can drive the oscillation of neutrophils between the activated and resting states. We highlight several molecules that have been identified in neutrophil mechanotransduction, including cell adhesion and transmembrane receptors, cytoskeletal and ion channel molecules. The physiological and pathophysiological implications of such mechanically induced signal transduction in neutrophils are highlighted as a basis for future work. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Mechanobiology. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Myosin II Activity Softens Cells in Suspension
Chii J. Chan, Andrew E. Ekpenyong, Stefan Golfier, Wenhong Li, Kevin J. Chalut, Oliver Otto, Jens Elgeti, Jochen Guck, Franziska Lautenschlaeger
BIOPHYSICAL JOURNAL 108(8) 1856-1869 (2015) | Journal
The cellular cytoskeleton is crucial for many cellular functions such as cell motility and wound healing, as well as other processes that require shape change or force generation. Actin is one cytoskeleton component that regulates cell mechanics. Important properties driving this regulation include the amount of actin, its level of cross-linking, and its coordination with the activity of specific molecular motors like myosin. While studies investigating the contribution of myosin activity to cell mechanics have been performed on cells attached to a substrate, we investigated mechanical properties of cells in suspension. To do this, we used multiple probes for cell mechanics including a microfluidic optical stretcher, a microfluidic microcirculation mimetic, and real-time deformability cytometry. We found that nonadherent blood cells, cells arrested in mitosis, and naturally adherent cells brought into suspension, stiffen and become more solidlike upon myosin inhibition across multiple timescales (milliseconds to minutes). Our results hold across several pharmacological and genetic perturbations targeting myosin. Our findings suggest that myosin II activity contributes to increased whole-cell compliance and fluidity. This finding is contrary to what has been reported for cells attached to a substrate, which stiffen via active myosin driven prestress. Our results establish the importance of myosin II as an active component in modulating suspended cell mechanics, with a functional role distinctly different from that for substrate-adhered cells.
ODTbrain: a Python library for full-view, dense diffraction tomography
Paul Mueller, Mirjam Schuermann, Jochen Guck
BMC BIOINFORMATICS 16 367 (2015) | Journal
Background: Analyzing the three-dimensional (3D) refractive index distribution of a single cell makes it possible to describe and characterize its inner structure in a marker-free manner. A dense, full-view tomographic data set is a set of images of a cell acquired for multiple rotational positions, densely distributed from 0 to 360 degrees. The reconstruction is commonly realized by projection tomography, which is based on the inversion of the Radon transform. The reconstruction quality of projection tomography is greatly improved when first order scattering, which becomes relevant when the imaging wavelength is comparable to the characteristic object size, is taken into account. This advanced reconstruction technique is called diffraction tomography. While many implementations of projection tomography are available today, there is no publicly available implementation of diffraction tomography so far.<br> Results: We present a Python library that implements the backpropagation algorithm for diffraction tomography in 3D. By establishing benchmarks based on finite-difference time-domain (FDTD) simulations, we showcase the superiority of the backpropagation algorithm over the backprojection algorithm. Furthermore, we discuss how measurment parameters influence the reconstructed refractive index distribution and we also give insights into the applicability of diffraction tomography to biological cells.<br> Conclusion: The present software library contains a robust implementation of the backpropagation algorithm. The algorithm is ideally suited for the application to biological cells. Furthermore, the implementation is a drop-in replacement for the classical backprojection algorithm and is made available to the large user community of the Python programming language.
Real-time deformability cytometry: on-the-fly cell mechanical phenotyping
Oliver Otto, Philipp Rosendahl, Alexander Mietke, Stefan Golfier, Christoph Herold, Daniel Klaue, Salvatore Girardo, Stefano Pagliara, Andrew Ekpenyong, et al.
NATURE METHODS 12(3) 199-+ (2015) | Journal
We introduce real-time deformability cytometry (RT-DC) for continuous cell mechanical characterization of large populations (> 100,000 cells) with analysis rates greater than 100 cells/s. RT-DC is sensitive to cytoskeletal alterations and can distinguish cell-cycle phases, track stem cell differentiation into distinct lineages and identify cell populations in whole blood by their mechanical fingerprints. This technique adds a new marker-free dimension to flow cytometry with diverse applications in biology, biotechnology and medicine.
Refractive index measurements of single, spherical cells using digital holographic microscopy
Mirjam Schuermann, Jana Scholze, Paul Mueller, Chii J. Chan, Andrew E. Ekpenyong, Kevin J. Chalut, Jochen Guck
Methods in Cell Biology (2015) | Book Chapter
In this chapter, we introduce digital holographic microscopy (DHM) as a marker-free method to determine the refractive index of single, spherical cells in suspension. The refractive index is a conclusive measure in a biological context. Cell conditions, such as differentiation or infection, are known to yield significant changes in the refractive index. Furthermore, the refractive index of biological tissue determines the way it interacts with light. Besides the biological relevance of this interaction in the retina, a lot of methods used in biology, including microscopy, rely on light-tissue or light-cell interactions. Hence, determining the refractive index of cells using DHM is valuable in many biological applications. This chapter covers the main topics that are important for the implementation of DHM: setup, sample preparation, and analysis. First, the optical setup is described in detail including notes and suggestions for the implementation. Following that, a protocol for the sample and measurement preparation is explained. In the analysis section, an algorithm for the determination of quantitative phase maps is described. Subsequently, all intermediate steps for the calculation of the refractive index of suspended cells are presented, exploiting their spherical shape. In the last section, a discussion of possible extensions to the setup, further measurement configurations, and additional analysis methods are given. Throughout this chapter, we describe a simple, robust, and thus easily reproducible implementation of DHM. The different possibilities for extensions show the diverse fields of application for this technique.
SAMHD1 prevents autoimmunity by maintaining genome stability
Stefanie Kretschmer, Christine Wolf, Nadja Koenig, Wolfgang Staroske, Jochen Guck, Martin Haeusler, Hella Luksch, Laura A. Nguyen, Baek Kim, et al.
ANNALS OF THE RHEUMATIC DISEASES 74(3) e17 (2015) | Journal
Objectives The HIV restriction factor, SAMHD1 (SAM domain and HD domain-containing protein 1), is a triphosphohydrolase that degrades deoxyribonucleoside triphosphates (dNTPs). Mutations in SAMHD1 cause Aicardi-Goutieres syndrome (AGS), an inflammatory disorder that shares phenotypic similarity with systemic lupus erythematosus, including activation of antiviral type 1 interferon (IFN). To further define the pathomechanisms underlying autoimmunity in AGS due to SAMHD1 mutations, we investigated the physiological properties of SAMHD1.<br> Methods Primary patient fibroblasts were examined for dNTP levels, proliferation, senescence, cell cycle progression and DNA damage. Genome-wide transcriptional profiles were generated by RNA sequencing. Interaction of SAMHD1 with cyclin A was assessed by coimmunoprecipitation and fluorescence cross-correlation spectroscopy. Cell cycle-dependent phosphorylation of SAMHD1 was examined in synchronised HeLa cells and using recombinant SAMHD1. SAMHD1 was knocked down by RNA interference.<br> Results We show that increased dNTP pools due to SAMHD1 deficiency cause genome instability in fibroblasts of patients with AGS. Constitutive DNA damage signalling is associated with cell cycle delay, cellular senescence, and upregulation of IFN-stimulated genes. SAMHD1 is phosphorylated by cyclin A/cyclin-dependent kinase 1 in a cell cycle-dependent manner, and its level fluctuates during the cell cycle, with the lowest levels observed in G1/S phase. Knockdown of SAMHD1 by RNA interference recapitulates activation of DNA damage signalling and type 1 IFN activation.<br> Conclusions SAMHD1 is required for genome integrity by maintaining balanced dNTP pools. dNTP imbalances due to SAMHD1 deficiency cause DNA damage, leading to intrinsic activation of IFN signalling. These findings establish a novel link between DNA damage signalling and innate immune activation in the pathogenesis of autoimmunity.
Actin polymerization as a key innate immune effector mechanism to control Salmonella infection
Si Ming Man, Andrew Ekpenyong, Panagiotis Tourlomousis, Sarra Achouri, Eugenia Cammarota, Katherine Hughes, Alessandro Rizzo, Gilbert Ng, John A. Wright, et al.
PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 111(49) 17588-17593 (2014) | Journal
Salmonellosis is one of the leading causes of food poisoning worldwide. Controlling bacterial burden is essential to surviving infection. Nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain-like receptors (NLRs), such as NLRC4, induce inflammasome effector functions and play a crucial role in controlling Salmonella infection. Inflammasome-dependent production of IL-1 beta recruits additional immune cells to the site of infection, whereas inflammasome-mediated pyroptosis of macrophages releases bacteria for uptake by neutrophils. Neither of these functions is known to directly kill intracellular salmonellae within macrophages. The mechanism, therefore, governing how inflammasomes mediate intracellular bacterial-killing and clearance in host macrophages remains unknown. Here, we show that actin polymerization is required for NLRC4-dependent regulation of intracellular bacterial burden, inflammasome assembly, pyroptosis, and IL-1 beta production. NLRC4-induced changes in actin polymerization are physically manifested as increased cellular stiffness, and leads to reduced bacterial uptake, production of antimicrobial molecules, and arrested cellular migration. These processes act in concert to limit bacterial replication in the cell and dissemination in tissues. We show, therefore, a functional link between innate immunity and actin turnover in macrophages that underpins a key host defense mechanism for the control of salmonellosis.
Direct observation of light focusing by single photoreceptor cell nuclei
Zuzanna Blaszczak, Moritz Kreysing, Jochen Guck
OPTICS EXPRESS 22(9) 11043-11060 (2014) | Journal
The vertebrate retina is inverted with respect to its optical function, which requires light to pass through the entire tissue prior to detection. The last significant barrier for photons to overcome is the outer nuclear layer formed by photoreceptor cell (PRC) nuclei. Here we experimentally characterise the optical properties of PRC nuclei using bright-field defocusing microscopy to capture near-field intensity distributions behind individual nuclei. We find that some nuclei efficiently focus incident light confirming earlier predictions based on comparative studies of chromatin organisation in nocturnal and diurnal mammals. The emergence of light focusing during the development of mouse nuclei highlights the acquired nature of the observed lens-like behaviour. Optical characterisation of these nuclei is an important first step towards an improved understanding of how light transmission through the retina is influenced by its constituents. (C) 2014 Optical Society of America
Dynamic operation of optical fibres beyond the single-mode regime facilitates the orientation of biological cells
Moritz Kreysing, Dino Ott, Michael J. Schmidberger, Oliver Otto, Mirjam Schuermann, Estela Martin-Badosa, Graeme Whyte, Jochen Guck
NATURE COMMUNICATIONS 5 5481 (2014) | Journal
The classical purpose of optical fibres is delivery of either optical power, as for welding, or temporal information, as for telecommunication. Maximum performance in both cases is provided by the use of single-mode optical fibres. However, transmitting spatial information, which necessitates higher-order modes, is difficult because their dispersion relation leads to dephasing and a deterioration of the intensity distribution with propagation distance. Here we consciously exploit the fundamental cause of the beam deterioration-the dispersion relation of the underlying vectorial electromagnetic modes-by their selective excitation using adaptive optics. This allows us to produce output beams of high modal purity, which are well defined in three dimensions. The output beam distribution is even robust against significant bending of the fibre. The utility of this approach is exemplified by the controlled rotational manipulation of live cells in a dual-beam fibre-optical trap integrated into a modular lab-on-chip system.
Grouped retinae and tapetal cups in some Teleostian fish: Occurrence, structure, and function
Mike Francke, Moritz Kreysing, Andreas Mack, Jacob Engelmann, Anett Karl, Felix Makarov, Jochen Guck, Mathias Kolle, Hartwig Wolburg, et al.
PROGRESS IN RETINAL AND EYE RESEARCH 38 43-69 (2014) | Journal
This article presents a summary and critical review of what is known about the 'grouped retina', a peculiar type of retinal organization in fish in which groups of photoreceptor cell inner and outer segments are arranged in spatially separated bundles. In most but not all cases, these bundles are embedded in light-reflective cups that are formed by the retinal pigment epithelial cells. These cups constitute a specialized type of retinal tapetum (i.e., they are biological 'mirrors' that cause eye shine) and appear to be optimized for different purposes in different fishes. Generally, the large retinal pigment epithelial cells are filled with light-reflecting photonic crystals that consist of guanine, uric acid, or pteridine depending on species, and which ensure that the incoming light becomes directed onto the photoreceptor outer segments. This structural specialization has so far been found in representatives of 17 fish families; of note, not all members of a given family must possess a grouped retina, and the 17 families are not all closely related to each other. In many cases (e.g., in Osteoglossomorpha and Aulopiformes) the inner surface of the cup is formed by three to four layers of strikingly regularly shaped and spaced guanine platelets acting as an optical multilayer. It has been estimated that this provides an up to 10fold increase of the incident light intensity. In certain deep-sea fish (many Aulopiformes and the Polymixidae), small groups of rods are embedded in such 'parabolic mirrors'; most likely, this is an adaptation to the extremely low light intensities available in their habitat. Some of these fishes additionally possess similar tapetal cups that surround individual cones and, very likely, also serve as amplifiers of the weak incident light. In the Osteoglossomorpha, however, that inhabit the turbid water of rivers or streams, the structure of the cups is more complex and undergoes adaptation-dependent changes. At dim daylight, probably representing the usual environmental conditions of the fish, the outer segments of up to 30 cone cells are placed at the bottom of the cup where light intensity is maximized. Strikingly, however, a large number of rod receptor cells are positioned behind each mirroring cup. This peculiar arrangement (i) allows vision at deep red wavelenghts, (ii) matches the sensitivity of rod and cone photoreceptors, and (iii) facilitates the detection of low-contrast and color-mixed stimuli, within the dim, turbid habitat. Thus, for these fish the grouped retina appears to aid in reliable and quick detection of large, fast moving, biologically relevant stimuli such as predators. Overall, the grouped retina appears as a peculiar type of general retinal specialization in a variety of fish species that is adaptive in particular habitats such as turbid freshwater but also the deep-sea. The authors were prompted to write this review by working on the retina of Gnathonemus petersii; the data resulting from this work (Landsberger et al., 2008; Kreying et al., 2012) are included in the present review. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Impact of heating on passive and active biomechanics of suspended cells
C. J. Chan, G. Whyte, L. Boyde, G. Salbreux, Jochen Guck
INTERFACE FOCUS 4(2 SI) 20130069 (2014) | Journal
A cell is a complex material whose mechanical properties are essential for its normal functions. Heating can have a dramatic effect on these mechanical properties, similar to its impact on the dynamics of artificial polymer networks. We investigated such mechanical changes by the use of a microfluidic optical stretcher, which allowed us to probe cell mechanics when the cells were subjected to different heating conditions at different time scales. We find that HL60/ S4 myeloid precursor cells become mechanically more compliant and fluid-likewhen subjected to either a sudden laser-induced temperature increase or prolonged exposure to higher ambient temperature. Above a critical temperature of 52 +/- 18 degrees C, we observed active cell contraction, which was strongly correlatedwith calciuminflux through temperature-sensitive transient receptor potential vanilloid 2 (TRPV2) ion channels, followed by a subsequent expansion in cell volume. The change from passive to active cellular response can be effectively described by a mechanical model incorporating both active stress and viscoelastic components. Our work highlights the role of TRPV2 in regulating the thermomechanical response of cells. It also offers insights into how cortical tension and osmotic pressure govern cell mechanics and regulate cell-shape changes in response to heat and mechanical stress.
Separation of blood cells with differing deformability using deterministic lateral displacement
David Holmes, Graeme Whyte, Joe Bailey, Nuria Vergara-Irigaray, Andrew Ekpenyong, Jochen Guck, Tom Duke
INTERFACE FOCUS 4(6) UNSP 20140011 (2014) | Journal
Determining cell mechanical properties is increasingly recognized as a marker-free way to characterize and separate biological cells. This emerging realization has led to the development of a plethora of appropriate measurement techniques. Here, we use a fairly novel approach, deterministic lateral displacement (DLD), to separate blood cells based on their mechanical phenotype with high throughput. Human red blood cells were treated chemically to alter their membrane deformability and the effect of this alteration on the hydrodynamic behaviour of the cells in a DLD device was investigated. Cells of defined stiffness (glutaraldehyde cross-linked erythrocytes) were used to test the performance of the DLD device across a range of cell stiffness and applied shear rates. Optical stretching was used as an independent method for quantifying the variation in stiffness of the cells. Lateral displacement of cells flowing within the device, and their subsequent exit position from the device were shown to correlate with cell stiffness. Data showing how the isolation of leucocytes from whole blood varies with applied shear rate are also presented. The ability to sort leucocyte sub-populations (T-lymphocytes and neutrophils), based on a combination of cell size and deformability, demonstrates the potential for using DLD devices to perform continuous fractionation and/or enrichment of leucocyte sub-populations from whole blood.
The relationship between glial cell mechanosensitivity and foreign body reactions in the central nervous system
Pouria Moshayedi, Gilbert Ng, Jessica C. F. Kwok, Giles S. H. Yeo, Clare E. Bryant, James W. Fawcett, Kristian Franze, Jochen Guck
BIOMATERIALS 35(13) 3919-3925 (2014) | Journal
Devices implanted into the body become encapsulated due to a foreign body reaction. In the central nervous system (CNS), this can lead to loss of functionality in electrodes used to treat disorders. Around CNS implants, glial cells are activated, undergo gliosis and ultimately encapsulate the electrodes. The primary cause of this reaction is unknown. Here we show that the mechanical mismatch between nervous tissue and electrodes activates glial cells. Both primary rat microglial cells and astrocytes responded to increasing the contact stiffness from physiological values (G' similar to 100 Pa) to shear moduli G' >= 10 kPa by changes in morphology and upregulation of inflammatory genes and proteins. Upon implantation of composite foreign bodies into rat brains, foreign body reactions were significantly enhanced around their stiff portions in vivo. Our results indicate that CNS glial cells respond to mechanical cues, and suggest that adapting the surface stiffness of neural implants to that of nervous tissue could minimize adverse reactions and improve biocompatibility. (C) 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Bacterial infection of macrophages induces decrease in refractive index
Andrew E. Ekpenyong, Si Ming Man, Sarra Achouri, Clare E. Bryant, Jochen Guck, Kevin J. Chalut
JOURNAL OF BIOPHOTONICS 6(5) 393-397 (2013) | Journal
Infection of cells by pathogens leads to both biochemical and structural modifications of the host cell. To study the structural modifications in a label-free manner, we use digital holographic microscopy, DHM, to obtain the integral refractive index distribution of cells. Primary murine bone marrow derived macrophages (BMDM) infected with Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium, undergo highly significant reduction in refractive index, RI, compared to uninfected cells. Infected BMDM cells from genetically modified mice lacking an inflammatory protein that causes cell death, caspase 1, also exhibit similar decrease in RI. These data suggest that any reduction in RI of Salmonella -infected BMDMs is pathogen induced and independent of caspase 1-induced inflammation or cell death. This finding suggests DHM may be useful for general real time monitoring of host cell interactions with infectious pathogens. ((c) 2013 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim)
Elastic theory for the deformation of a solid or layered spheroid under axisymmetric loading
Lars Boyde, Andrew Ekpenyong, Graeme Whyte, Jochen Guck
ACTA MECHANICA 224(4) 819-839 (2013) | Journal
The theory for the deformations of a spheroidal particle is of great scientific interest in numerous physical and biological problems ranging from fracture analysis of plain solids to the compression of biological cells in an atomic force microscope or during micropipette aspiration. Using a formulation in terms of Papkovich-Neuber potentials, we derive the deformations of a prolate, elastic spheroid under known axisymmetric loading. The internal stresses to which the object is subjected are deduced from Hooke's law of elasticity in prolate spheroidal coordinates. The generalisation to layered spheroids with viscoelastic properties is also discussed. Since for isotropic objects the surface displacements and stresses are directly related by the elastic modulus and Poisson's ratio alone, the presented, closed-form, analytical solutions may be applied to deduce these important elastic constants from standard stress-deformation experiments. We illustrate the versatility of the findings by analysing the surface displacements and stress states of spheroids with small and large aspect ratios in the presence of both normal and shear surface tractions. Of particular interest in this study is the influence of Poisson's ratio on the deformation of a near-spherical particle, for instance a soft cancer cell, which is subjected to surface stresses of the kind that can be found in optical traps, like the optical stretcher.
Mechanics in Neuronal Development and Repair
Kristian Franze, Paul A. Janmey, Jochen Guck
Annual Review of Biomedical Engineering 15(1) 227-251 (2013) | Journal
Biological cells are well known to respond to a multitude of chemical signals. In the nervous system, chemical signaling has been shown to be crucially involved in development, normal functioning, and disorders of neurons and glial cells. However, there are an increasing number of studies showing that these cells also respond to mechanical cues. Here, we summarize current knowledge about the mechanical properties of nervous tissue and its building blocks, review recent progress in methodology and understanding of cellular mechanosensitivity in the nervous system, and provide an outlook on the implications of neuromechanics for future developments in biomedical engineering to aid overcoming some of the most devastating and currently incurable CNS pathologies such as spinal cord injuries and multiple sclerosis.
Mechanics Meets Medicine
Jochen Guck, Edwin R. Chilvers
SCIENCE TRANSLATIONAL MEDICINE 5(212) 212fs41 (2013) | Journal
Changes in Ect2 Localization Couple Actomyosin-Dependent Cell Shape Changes to Mitotic Progression
Helen K. Matthews, Ulysse Delabre, Jennifer L. Rohn, Jochen Guck, Patricia Kunda, Buzz Baum
DEVELOPMENTAL CELL 23(2) 371-383 (2012) | Journal
As they enter mitosis, animal cells undergo profound actin-dependent changes in shape to become round. Here we identify the Cdk1 substrate, Ect2, as a central regulator of mitotic rounding, thus uncovering a link between the cell-cycle machinery that drives mitotic entry and its accompanying actin remodeling. Ect2 is a RhoGEF that plays a well-established role in formation of the actomyosin contractile ring at mitotic exit, through the local activation of RhoA. We find that Ect2 first becomes active in prophase, when it is exported from the nucleus into the cytoplasm, activating RhoA to induce the formation of a mechanically stiff and rounded metaphase cortex. Then, at anaphase, binding to RacGAP1 at the spindle midzone repositions Ect2 to induce local actomyosin ring formation. Ect2 localization therefore defines the stage-specific changes in actin cortex organization critical for accurate cell division.
Chromatin Decondensation and Nuclear Softening Accompany Nanog Downregulation in Embryonic Stem Cells
Kevin J. Chalut, Markus Hoepfler, Franziska Lautenschlaeger, Lars Boyde, Chii Jou Chan, Andrew Ekpenyong, Alfonso Martinez-Arias, Jochen Guck
BIOPHYSICAL JOURNAL 103(10) 2060-2070 (2012) | Journal
The interplay between epigenetic modification and chromatin compaction is implicated in the regulation of gene expression, and it comprises one of the most fascinating frontiers in cell biology. Although a complete picture is still lacking, it is generally accepted that the differentiation of embryonic stem (ES) cells is accompanied by a selective condensation into heterochromatin with concomitant gene silencing, leaving access only to lineage-specific genes in the euchromatin. ES cells have been reported to have less condensed chromatin, as they are capable of differentiating into any cell type. However, pluripotency itself-even prior to differentiation-is a split state comprising a naive state and a state in which ES cells prime for differentiation. Here, we show that naive ES cells decondense their chromatin in the course of downregulating the pluripotency marker Nanog before they initiate lineage commitment. We used fluorescence recovery after photobleaching, and histone modification analysis paired with a novel, to our knowledge, optical stretching method, to show that ES cells in the naive state have a significantly stiffer nucleus that is coupled to a globally more condensed chromatin state. We link this biophysical phenotype to coinciding epigenetic differences, including histone methylation, and show a strong correlation of chromatin condensation and nuclear stiffness with the expression of Nanog. Besides having implications for transcriptional regulation and embryonic cell sorting and suggesting a putative mechanosensing mechanism, the physical differences point to a system-level regulatory role of chromatin in maintaining pluripotency in embryonic development.
Comparison of stresses on homogeneous spheroids in the optical stretcher computed with geometrical optics and generalized Lorenz-Mie theory
Lars Boyde, Andrew Ekpenyong, Graeme Whyte, Jochen Guck
APPLIED OPTICS 51(33) 7934-7944 (2012) | Journal
We present two electromagnetic frameworks to compare the surface stresses on spheroidal particles in the optical stretcher (a dual-beam laser trap that can be used to capture and deform biological cells). The first model is based on geometrical optics (GO) and limited in its applicability to particles that are much greater than the incident wavelength. The second framework is more sophisticated and hinges on the generalized Lorenz-Mie theory (GLMT). Despite the difference in complexity between both theories, the stress profiles computed with GO and GLMT are in good agreement with each other (relative errors are on the order of 1-10%). Both models predict a diminishing of the stresses for larger wavelengths and a strong increase of the stresses for shorter laser-cell distances. Results indicate that surface stresses on a spheroid with an aspect ratio of 1.2 hardly differ from the stresses on a sphere of similar size. Knowledge of the surface stresses and whether or not they redistribute during the stretching process is of crucial importance in real-time applications of the stretcher that aim to discern the viscoelastic properties of cells for purposes of cell characterization, sorting, and medical diagnostics. (C) 2012 Optical Society of America
Coupling of Active Motion and Advection Shapes Intracellular Cargo Transport
Philipp Khuc Trong, Jochen Guck, Raymond E. Goldstein
PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS 109(2) 028104 (2012) | Journal
Intracellular cargo transport can arise from passive diffusion, active motor-driven transport along cytoskeletal filament networks, and passive advection by fluid flows entrained by such cargo-motor motion. Active and advective transport are thus intrinsically coupled as related, yet different representations of the same underlying network structure. A reaction-advection-diffusion system is used here to show that this coupling affects the transport and localization of a passive tracer in a confined geometry. For sufficiently low diffusion, cargo localization to a target zone is optimized either by low reaction kinetics and decoupling of bound and unbound states, or by a mostly disordered cytoskeletal network with only weak directional bias. These generic results may help to rationalize subtle features of cytoskeletal networks, for example as observed for microtubules in fly oocytes.
Live Cells as Optical Fibers in the Vertebrate Retina
Andreas Reichenbach, Kristian Franze, Silke Agte, Stephan Junek, Antje Wurm, Jens Grosche, Alexej Savvinov, Jochen Guck, Serguei N. Skatchkov
SELECTED TOPICS ON OPTICAL FIBER TECHNOLOGY 247-270 (2012)
Mechanical Environment Modulates Biological Properties of Oligodendrocyte Progenitor Cells
Anna Jagielska, Adele L. Norman, Graeme Whyte, Krystyn J. Van Vliet, Jochen Guck, Robin J. M. Franklin
STEM CELLS AND DEVELOPMENT 21(16) 2905-2914 (2012) | Journal
Myelination and its regenerative counterpart remyelination represent one of the most complex cell-cell interactions in the central nervous system (CNS). The biochemical regulation of axon myelination via the proliferation, migration, and differentiation of oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs) has been characterized extensively. However, most biochemical analysis has been conducted in vitro on OPCs adhered to substrata of stiffness that is orders of magnitude greater than that of the in vivo CNS environment. Little is known of how variation in mechanical properties over the physiological range affects OPC biology. Here, we show that OPCs are mechanosensitive. Cell survival, proliferation, migration, and differentiation capacity in vitro depend on the mechanical stiffness of polymer hydrogel substrata. Most of these properties are optimal at the intermediate values of CNS tissue stiffness. Moreover, many of these properties measured for cells on gels of optimal stiffness differed significantly from those measured on glass or polystyrene. The dependence of OPC differentiation on the mechanical properties of the extracellular environment provides motivation to revisit results obtained on nonphysiological, rigid surfaces. We also find that OPCs stiffen upon differentiation, but that they do not change their compliance in response to substratum stiffness, which is similar to embryonic stem cells, but different from adult stem cells. These results form the basis for further investigations into the mechanobiology of cell function in the CNS and may specifically shed new light on the failure of remyelination in chronic demyelinating diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
Photonic Crystal Light Collectors in Fish Retina Improve Vision in Turbid Water
Moritz Kreysing, Roland Pusch, Dorothee Haverkate, Meik Landsberger, Jacob Engelmann, Janina Ruiter, Carlos Mora-Ferrer, Elke Ulbricht, Jens Grosche, et al.
SCIENCE 336(6089) 1700-1703 (2012) | Journal
Despite their diversity, vertebrate retinae are specialized to maximize either photon catch or visual acuity. Here, we describe a functional type that is optimized for neither purpose. In the retina of the elephantnose fish (Gnathonemus petersii), cone photoreceptors are grouped together within reflecting, photonic crystal-lined cups acting as macroreceptors, but rod photoreceptors are positioned behind these reflectors. This unusual arrangement matches rod and cone sensitivity for detecting color-mixed stimuli, whereas the photoreceptor grouping renders the fish insensitive to spatial noise; together, this enables more reliable flight reactions in the fish's dim and turbid habitat as compared with fish lacking this retinal specialization.
Quantifying cellular differentiation by physical phenotype using digital holographic microscopy
Kevin J. Chalut, Andrew E. Ekpenyong, Warren L. Clegg, Isabel C. Melhuish, Jochen Guck
INTEGRATIVE BIOLOGY 4(3) 280-284 (2012) | Journal
Although the biochemical changes that occur during cell differentiation are well-known, less known is that there are significant, cell-wide physical changes that also occur. Understanding and quantifying these changes can help to better understand the process of differentiation as well as ways to monitor it. Digital holographic microscopy (DHM) is a marker-free quantitative phase microscopy technique for measuring biological processes such as cellular differentiation, alleviating the need for introduction of foreign markers. We found significant changes in subcellular structure and refractive index of differentiating myeloid precursor cells within one day of differentiation induction, and significant differences depending on the type of lineage commitment. We augmented our results by showing significant changes in the softness of myeloid precursor cell differentiation within one day using optical stretching, a laser trap-based marker-free technique. DHM and optical stretching therefore provide consequential parameterization of cellular differentiation with sensitivity otherwise difficult to achieve. Therefore, we provide a way forward to quantify and understand cell differentiation with minimal perturbation using biophotonics.
Validation and perspectives of a femtosecond laser fabricated monolithic optical stretcher
Nicola Bellini, Francesca Bragheri, Ilaria Cristiani, Jochen Guck, Roberto Osellame, Graeme Whyte
BIOMEDICAL OPTICS EXPRESS 3(10) 2658-2668 (2012) | Journal
The combination of high power laser beams with microfluidic delivery of cells is at the heart of high-throughput, single-cell analysis and disease diagnosis with an optical stretcher. So far, the challenges arising from this combination have been addressed by externally aligning optical fibres with microfluidic glass capillaries, which has a limited potential for integration into lab-on-a-chip environments. Here we demonstrate the successful production and use of a monolithic glass chip for optical stretching of white blood cells, featuring microfluidic channels and optical waveguides directly written into bulk glass by femtosecond laser pulses. The performance of this novel chip is compared to the standard capillary configuration. The robustness, durability and potential for intricate flow patterns provided by this monolithic optical stretcher chip suggest its use for future diagnostic and biotechnological applications. (c) 2012 Optical Society of America
Viscoelastic Properties of Differentiating Blood Cells Are Fate- and Function-Dependent
Andrew E. Ekpenyong, Graeme Whyte, Kevin Chalut, Stefano Pagliara, Franziska Lautenschlaeger, Christine Fiddler, Stephan Paschke, Ulrich F. Keyser, Edwin R. Chilvers, et al.
PLOS ONE 7(9) e45237 (2012) | Journal
Although cellular mechanical properties are known to alter during stem cell differentiation, understanding of the functional relevance of such alterations is incomplete. Here, we show that during the course of differentiation of human myeloid precursor cells into three different lineages, the cells alter their viscoelastic properties, measured using an optical stretcher, to suit their ultimate fate and function. Myeloid cells circulating in blood have to be advected through constrictions in blood vessels, engendering the need for compliance at short time-scales (< seconds). Intriguingly, only the two circulating myeloid cell types have increased short time scale compliance and flow better through microfluidic constrictions. Moreover, all three differentiated cell types reduce their steady-state viscosity by more than 50% and show over 140% relative increase in their ability to migrate through tissue-like pores at long time-scales (> minutes), compared to undifferentiated cells. These findings suggest that reduction in steady-state viscosity is a physiological adaptation for enhanced migration through tissues. Our results indicate that the material properties of cells define their function, can be used as a cell differentiation marker and could serve as target for novel therapies.
3D inverted colloidal crystals in realistic cell migration assays for drug screening applications
Joakim da Silva, Franziska Lautenschlaeger, Cheng-Hwa R. Kuo, Jochen Guck, Easan Sivaniah
INTEGRATIVE BIOLOGY 3(12) 1202-1206 (2011) | Journal
Screening drugs for their specific impact on cell mechanics, in addition to targeting adhesion and proteolysis, will be important for successfully moderating migration in infiltrative disorders including cancer metastasis. We present 3D inverted colloidal crystals made of hydrogel as a realistic cell migration assay, where the geometry and stiffness can be set independently to mimic the tissue requirements in question. We show the utility of this 3D assay for drug screening purposes, specifically in contrast to conventional 2D migration studies, by surveying the effects of commonly used cytoskeletal toxins that impact cell mechanics. This assay allows studying large cell numbers for good statistics but at single-cell resolution.
Exact analytical expansion of an off-axis Gaussian laser beam using the translation theorems for the vector spherical harmonics
Lars Boyde, Kevin J. Chalut, Jochen Guck
APPLIED OPTICS 50(7) 1023-1033 (2011) | Journal
The interaction of a Gaussian laser beam with a particle that is located off axis is a fundamental problem encountered across many scientific fields, including biological physics, chemistry, and medicine. For spherical geometries, generalized Lorenz-Mie theory affords a solution of Maxwell's equations for the scattering from such a particle. The solution can be obtained by expanding the laser fields in terms of vector spherical harmonics (VSHs). However, the computation of the VSH expansion coefficients for off-axis beams has proven challenging. In the present study, we provide a very viable, theoretical framework to efficiently compute the sought-after expansion coefficients with high numerical accuracy. We use the existing theory for the expansion of an on-axis laser beam and employ Cruzan's translation theorems [Q. Appl. Math. 20, 33 (1962)] for the VSHs to obtain a description for more general off-axis beams. The expansion coefficients for the off-axis laser beam are presented in an analytical form in terms of an infinite series over the underlying translation coefficients. A direct comparison of the electromagnetic fields of such a beam expansion with the original laser fields and with results obtained using numerical quadratures shows excellent agreement (relative errors are on the order of less than or similar to 10(-3)). In practice, the analytical approach presented in this study has numerous applications, reaching from multiparticle scattering problems in atmospheric physics and climatology to optical trapping, sorting, and sizing techniques. (C) 2011 Optical Society of America
Near- and far-field scattering from arbitrary three-dimensional aggregates of coated spheres using parallel computing
Lars Boyde, Kevin J. Chalut, Jochen Guck
PHYSICAL REVIEW E 83(2) 026701 (2011) | Journal
Many scientific fields-including astronomy, climatology, and biology, among others-require the calculation of the scattered optical fields from multiparticle distributions. In the present study, we combine the established results for the scattering from clusters of homogeneous spheres and from single core-shell particles into a computationally tractable solution that is valid for irregular configurations of nonidentical, coated particles. The presented multiparticle scattering (MPS) model is based on a generalized Lorenz-Mie theory framework and the vector translation theorems for the vector spherical harmonics. We provide the MPS model in both the near and far fields, and for plane-wave and Gaussian beam illumination. A message-passing-interface protocol is used for the computational implementation of the model in a parallel computer program. The computer model is validated by verifying the accuracy of the vector translation theorems utilized in our theoretical methods and by qualitative comparison to existing multiparticle scattering data. We conclude by presenting the scattering profiles from several examples of particle distributions. This MPS model is a practicable method of calculating the optical fields arising in the scattering from particle aggregates and is straightforwardly extensible to arbitrary illumination and to more complex internal-particle structures, such as stratified spheres. Vital applications of this model include the exact computation of forces exerted on irregular objects in optical traps and the simulation of light propagation through biological tissues.
Spatial mapping of the mechanical properties of the living retina using scanning force microscopy
Kristian Franze, Mike Francke, Katrin Guenter, Andreas F. Christ, Nicole Koerber, Andreas Reichenbach, Jochen Guck
SOFT MATTER 7(7) 3147-3154 (2011) | Journal
The retina is an active soft material, in which mechanosensitive cells are thought to respond to the local mechanical heterogeneity they encounter during development and adult physiological functioning. The retina is also constantly exposed to mechanical stress with shear and traction forces acting at its inner surface. Consequences of these forces depend on the tissue's resistance to deformation, which is characterized by its stiffness. However, currently there is a lack of high-resolution data on retinal mechanical properties. Here, we used scanning force microscopy to determine the apparent elastic modulus K of the retinal inner surface along the length of the eye with sub-millimetre resolution, and compared characteristic K values of the retinal quadrants. We found that the inner retina is a mechanically inhomogeneous tissue. Most elastic moduli were in the range of 940 to 1800 Pa; significant differences were found between areas less than 50 mu m apart. To identify the origin of this mechanical inhomogeneity, we investigated the size and distribution of structures comprising the retinal surface: large cell bodies in the ganglion cell layer, nerve fibers, inner limiting membrane, and Muller cell endfeet. Our data suggest that the distribution of compliant nerve fiber bundles and stiff neuronal cell bodies contributes most to the mechanical properties of the inner retina. These data offer a basis for understanding cellular mechanoresistivity and -sensitivity in the retina as a mechanically active tissue, and they may help to understand mechanisms and consequences of a variety of retino-pathological processes and their surgical treatment.
Biophotonic techniques for the study of malaria-infected red blood cells
Jakob M. A. Mauritz, Alessandro Esposito, Teresa Tiffert, Jeremy N. Skepper, Alice Warley, Young-Zoon Yoon, Pietro Cicuta, Virgilio L. Lew, Jochen Guck, et al.
MEDICAL & BIOLOGICAL ENGINEERING & COMPUTING 48(10 SI) 1055-1063 (2010) | Journal
Investigation of the homeostasis of red blood cells upon infection by Plasmodium falciparum poses complex experimental challenges. Changes in red cell shape, volume, protein, and ion balance are difficult to quantify. In this article, we review a wide range of optical techniques for quantitative measurements of critical homeostatic parameters in malaria-infected red blood cells. Fluorescence lifetime imaging and tomographic phase microscopy, quantitative deconvolution microscopy, and X-ray microanalysis, are used to measure haemoglobin concentration, cell volume, and ion contents. Atomic force microscopy is briefly reviewed in the context of these optical methodologies. We also describe how optical tweezers and optical stretchers can be usefully applied to empower basic malaria research to yield diagnostic information on cell compliance changes upon malaria infection. The combined application of these techniques sheds new light on the detailed mechanisms of malaria infection providing potential for new diagnostic or therapeutic approaches.
Critical review: cellular mechanobiology and amoeboid migration
Jochen Guck, Franziska Lautenschlaeger, Stephan Paschke, Michael Beil
INTEGRATIVE BIOLOGY 2(11-12) 575-583 (2010) | Journal
Cell motility is important for tissue homeostasis and plays a central role in various pathologies, notably inflammation and cancer. Research into the critical processes involved in cell migration has so far mostly focused on cell adhesion and proteolytic degradation of the extracellular matrix. However, pharmacological interference with these processes only partially blocks cell motility in vivo. In this review we summarize the arising evidence that the mechanical properties of the cell body have a major role to play in cell motility-especially in a low-adhesion, amoeboid-like migration mode in three-dimensional tissue structures. We summarize the processes determining cell mechanics and discuss relevant measurement technologies including their applications in medical cell biology.
Detection of Plasmodium falciparum-infected red blood cells by optical stretching
Jakob M. A. Mauritz, Teresa Tiffert, Rachel Seear, Franziska Lautenschlaeger, Alessandro Esposito, Virgilio L. Lew, Jochen Guck, Clemens F. Kaminski
JOURNAL OF BIOMEDICAL OPTICS 15(3) 030517 (2010) | Journal
We present the application of a microfluidic optical cell stretcher to measure the elasticity of malaria-infected red blood cells. The measurements confirm an increase in host cell rigidity during the maturation of the parasite Plasmodium falciparum. The device combines the selectivity and sensitivity of single-cell elasticity measurements with a throughput that is higher than conventional single-cell techniques. The method has potential to detect early stages of infection with excellent sensitivity and high speed. (C) 2010 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers. [DOI: 10.1117/1.3458919]
Mechanical difference between white and gray matter in the rat cerebellum measured by scanning force microscopy
Andreas F. Christ, Kristian Franze, Helene Gautier, Pouria Moshayedi, James Fawcett, Robin J. M. Franklin, Ragnhildur T. Karadottir, Jochen Guck
JOURNAL OF BIOMECHANICS 43(15) 2986-2992 (2010) | Journal
The mechanical properties of tissues are increasingly recognized as important cues for cell physiology and pathology. Nevertheless, there is a sparsity of quantitative, high-resolution data on mechanical properties of specific tissues. This is especially true for the central nervous system (CNS), which poses particular difficulties in terms of preparation and measurement. We have prepared thin slices of brain tissue suited for indentation measurements on the micrometer scale in a near-native state. Using a scanning force microscope with a spherical indenter of radius similar to 20 mu m we have mapped the effective elastic modulus of rat cerebellum with a spatial resolution of 100 mu m. We found significant differences between white and gray matter, having effective elastic moduli of K=294 +/- 74 and 454 +/- 53 Pa, respectively, at 3 mu m indentation depth (n(g) = 245, n(w)=150 in four animals, p < 0.05; errors are SD). In contrast to many other measurements on larger length scales, our results were constant for indentation depths of 2-4 mu m indicating a regime of linear effective elastic modulus. These data, assessed with a direct mechanical measurement, provide reliable high-resolution information and serve as a quantitative basis for further neuromechanical investigations on the mechanical properties of developing, adult and damaged CNS tissue. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Mechanosensitivity of astrocytes on optimized polyacrylamide gels analyzed by quantitative morphometry
Pouria Moshayedi, Luciano da F. Costa, Andreas Christ, Stephanie P. Lacour, James Fawcett, Jochen Guck, Kristian Franze
JOURNAL OF PHYSICS-CONDENSED MATTER 22(19) 194114 (2010) | Journal
Cells are able to detect and respond to mechanical cues from their environment. Previous studies have investigated this mechanosensitivity on various cell types, including neural cells such as astrocytes. In this study, we have carefully optimized polyacrylamide gels, commonly used as compliant growth substrates, considering their homogeneity in surface topography, mechanical properties, and coating density, and identified several potential pitfalls for the purpose of mechanosensitivity studies. The resulting astrocyte response to growth on substrates with shear storage moduli of G' = 100 Pa and G' = 10 kPa was then evaluated as a function of coating density of poly-D-lysine using quantitative morphometric analysis. Astrocytes cultured on stiff substrates showed significantly increased perimeter, area, diameter, elongation, number of extremities and overall complexity if compared to those cultured on compliant substrates. A statistically significant difference in the overall morphological score was confirmed with an artificial intelligence-based shape analysis. The dependence of the cells' morphology on PDL coating density seemed to be weak compared to the effect of the substrate stiffness and was slightly biphasic, with a maximum at 10-100 mu g ml(-1) PDL concentration. Our finding suggests that the compliance of the surrounding tissue in vivo may influence astrocyte morphology and behavior.
Mesenchymal Stem Cell Mechanics from the Attached to the Suspended State
John M. Maloney, Dessy Nikova, Franziska Lautenschlaeger, Emer Clarke, Robert Langer, Jochen Guck, Krystyn J. Van Vliet
BIOPHYSICAL JOURNAL 99(8) 2479-2487 (2010) | Journal
Human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) are therapeutically useful cells that are typically expanded in vitro on stiff substrata before reimplantation. Here we explore MSC mechanical and structural changes via atomic force microscopy and optical stretching during extended passaging, and we demonstrate that cytoskeletal organization and mechanical stiffness of attached MSC populations are strongly modulated over >15 population doublings in vitro. Cytoskeletal actin networks exhibit significant coarsening, attendant with decreasing average mechanical compliance and differentiation potential of these cells, although expression of molecular surface markers does not significantly decline. These mechanical changes are not observed in the suspended state, indicating that the changes manifest themselves as alterations in stress fiber arrangement rather than cortical cytoskeleton arrangement. Additionally, optical stretching is capable of investigating a previously unquantified structural transition: remodeling-induced stiffening over tens of minutes after adherent cells are suspended. Finally, we find that optically stretched hMSCs exhibit power-law rheology during both loading and recovery; this evidence appears to be the first to originate from a biophysical measurement technique not involving cell-probe or cell-substratum contact. Together, these quantitative assessments of attached and suspended MSCs define the extremes of the extracellular environment while probing intracellular mechanisms that contribute to cell mechanical response.
Micro and nanotechnology for biological and biomedical applications
Chwee Teck Lim, Jongyoon Han, Jochen Guck, Horacio Espinosa
MEDICAL & BIOLOGICAL ENGINEERING & COMPUTING 48(10) 941-943 (2010) | Journal
This special issue contains some of the current state-of-the-art development and use of micro and nanotechnological tools, devices and techniques for both biological and biomedical research and applications. These include nanoparticles for bioimaging and biosensing, optical and biophotonic techniques for probing diseases at the nanoscale, micro and nano-fabricated tools for elucidating molecular mechanisms of mechanotransduction in cell and molecular biology and cell separation microdevices and techniques for isolating and enriching targeted cells for disease detection and diagnosis. Although some of these works are still at the research stage, there is no doubt that some of the important outcomes will eventually see actual biomedical applications in the not too distant future.
Monitoring of laser micromanipulated optically trapped cells by digital holographic microscopy
Bjoern Kemper, Patrik Langehanenberg, Alexander Hoeink, Gert von Bally, Falk Wottowah, Stefan Schinkinger, Jochen Guck, Josef Kaes, Ilona Bredebusch, et al.
JOURNAL OF BIOPHOTONICS 3(7) 425-431 (2010) | Journal
For a precise manipulation of particles and cells with laser light as well as for the understanding and the control of the underlying processes it is important to visualize and quantify the response of the specimens. Thus, we investigated if digital holographic microscopy (DHM) can be used in combination with microfluidics to observe optically trapped living cells in a minimally invasive fashion during laser micromanipulation. The obtained results demonstrate that DHM multi-focus phase contrast provides label-free quantitative monitoring of optical manipulation with a temporal resolution of a few milliseconds.<br> [GRAPHICS]<br> Laser micromanipulation monitoring of optically trapped pancreas tumor cells by quantitative digital holographic phase contrast. The arrows in the false colour coded quantitative phase contrast images indicate the impact of the treatment with focussed laser light.
Physical insight into light scattering by photoreceptor cell nuclei
Moritz Kreysing, Lars Boyde, Jochen Guck, Kevin J. Chalut
OPTICS LETTERS 35(15) 2639-2641 (2010) | Journal
A recent study showed that the rod photoreceptor cell nuclei in the retina of nocturnal and diurnal mammals differ considerably in architecture: the location of euchromatin and heterochromatin in the nucleus is interchanged. This inversion has significant implications for the refractive index distribution and the light scattering properties of the nucleus. Here, we extend previous two-dimensional analysis to three dimensions (3D) by using both a numerical finite-difference time-domain and an analytic Mie theory approach. We find that the specific arrangement of the chromatin phases in the nuclear core-shell models employed have little impact on the far-field scattering cross section. However, scattering in the near field, which is the relevant regime inside the retina, shows a significant difference between the two architectures. The "inverted" photoreceptor cell nuclei of nocturnal mammals act as collection lenses, with the lensing effect being much more pronounced in 3D than in two dimensions. This lensing helps to deliver light efficiently to the light-sensing outer segments of the rod photoreceptor cells and thereby improve night vision. (C) 2010 Optical Society of America
The biophysics of neuronal growth
Kristian Franze, Jochen Guck
REPORTS ON PROGRESS IN PHYSICS 73(9) 094601 (2010) | Journal
For a long time, neuroscience has focused on biochemical, molecular biological and electrophysiological aspects of neuronal physiology and pathology. However, there is a growing body of evidence indicating the importance of physical stimuli for neuronal growth and development. In this review we briefly summarize the historical background of neurobiophysics and give an overview over the current understanding of neuronal growth from a physics perspective. We show how biophysics has so far contributed to a better understanding of neuronal growth and discuss current inconsistencies. Finally, we speculate how biophysics may contribute to the successful treatment of lesions to the central nervous system, which have been considered incurable until very recently.
The cavity-to-cavity migration of leukaemic cells through 3D honey-combed hydrogels with adjustable internal dimension and stiffness
Joakim da Silva, Franziska Lautenschlaeger, Easan Sivaniah, Jochen Guck
BIOMATERIALS 31(8) 2201-2208 (2010) | Journal
Whilst rigid, planar surfaces are often used to study cell migration, a physiological scenario requires three-dimensional (3D) scaffolds with tissue-like stiffness. This paper presents a method for fabricating periodic hydrogel scaffolds with a 3D honeycomb-like structure from colloidal crystal templates. The scaffolds, made of hydrogel-walled cavities interconnected by pores, have separately tuneable internal dimensions and adjustable gel stiffness down to that of soft tissues. In conjunction with confocal microscopy, these scaffolds were used to study the importance of cell compliance on invasive potential. Acute promyelocytic leukaemia (APL) cells were differentiated with all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) and treated with paclitaxel. Their migration ability into the scaffolds' size-restricted pores, enabled by cell softening during ATRA differentiation, was significantly reduced by paclitaxel treatment, which interferes with cell shape recovery. These findings demonstrate the usability of the scaffolds for investigating factors that affect cell migration, and potentially other cell functions, in a realistic 3D tissue model. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Do cells care about physics?
PHYSICS WORLD 22(7) 31-34 (2009)
Interaction of Gaussian beam with near-spherical particle: an analytic-numerical approach for assessing scattering and stresses
Lars Boyde, Kevin J. Chalut, Jochen Guck
JOURNAL OF THE OPTICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA A-OPTICS IMAGE SCIENCE AND VISION 26(8) 1814-1826 (2009) | Journal
We derive a straightforward theoretical method to determine the electromagnetic fields for the incidence of a monochromatic laser beam on a near-spherical dielectric particle. The beam-shape coefficients are obtained from the radial laser fields and expressed as a finite series in a form that has, to our knowledge, not been published before. Our perturbation approach to solve Maxwell's equations in spherical coordinates employs two alternative techniques to match the boundary conditions: an analytic approach for small particles with low eccentricity and an adapted point-matching method for larger spheroids with higher aspect ratios. We present results for the internal and external fields, scattering intensities, and stresses exerted on the particle. While similarly accurate as others, our approach is easily implemented numerically and thus particularly useful in praxis, e.g., for analyzing optical traps, such as the optical stretcher. (C) 2009 Optical Society of America
Nuclear Architecture of Rod Photoreceptor Cells Adapts to Vision in Mammalian Evolution
Irina Solovei, Moritz Kreysing, Christian Lanctot, Sueleyman Koesem, Leo Peichl, Thomas Cremer, Jochen Guck, Boris Joffe
CELL 137(2) 356-368 (2009) | Journal
We show that the nuclear architecture of rod photoreceptor cells differs fundamentally in nocturnal and diurnal mammals. The rods of diurnal retinas possess the conventional architecture found in nearly all eukaryotic cells, with most heterochromatin situated at the nuclear periphery and euchromatin residing toward the nuclear interior. The rods of nocturnal retinas have a unique inverted pattern, where heterochromatin localizes in the nuclear center, whereas euchromatin, as well as nascent transcripts and splicing machinery, line the nuclear border. The inverted pattern forms by remodeling of the conventional one during terminal differentiation of rods. The inverted rod nuclei act as collecting lenses, and computer simulations indicate that columns of such nuclei channel light efficiently toward the light-sensing rod outer segments. Comparison of the two patterns suggests that the conventional architecture prevails in eukaryotic nuclei because it results in more flexible chromosome arrangements, facilitating positional regulation of nuclear functions.
Oral Cancer Diagnosis by Mechanical Phenotyping
Torsten W. Remmerbach, Falk Wottawah, Julia Dietrich, Bryan Lincoln, Christian Wittekind, Jochen Guck
CANCER RESEARCH 69(5) 1728-1732 (2009) | Journal
Oral squamous cell carcinomas are among the 10 most common cancers and have a 50% lethality rate after 5 years. Despite easy access to the oral cavity for cancer screening, the main limitations to successful treatment are uncertain prognostic criteria for (pre-)malignant lesions. Identifying a functional cellular marker may represent a significant improvement for diagnosis and treatment. Toward this goal, mechanical phenotyping of individual cells is a novel approach to detect cytoskeletal changes, which are diagnostic for malignant change. The compliance of cells from cell lines and primary samples of healthy donors and cancer patients was measured using a microfluidic optical stretcher. Cancer cells showed significantly different mechanical behavior, with a higher mean deformability and increased variance. Cancer cells (n approximate to 30 cells measured from each patient) were on average 3.5 times more compliant than those of healthy donors [D-normal = (4.43 +/- 0.68) 10(-3) Pa-1; D-cancer = (15.8 +/- 1.5) 10(-3) Pa-1; p < 0.01]. The diagnosis results of the patient samples were confirmed by standard histopathology. The generality of these findings was supported by measurements of two normal and four cancer oral epithelial cell lines. Our results indicate that mechanical phenotyping is a sensible, label-free approach for classifying cancer cells to enable broad screening of suspicious lesions in the oral cavity. It could in principle be applied to any cancer to aid conventional diagnostic procedures. [Cancer Res 2009;69(5):1728-32]
Quantifying the contribution of actin networks to the elastic strength of fibroblasts
Revathi Ananthakrishnan, Jochen Guck, Falk Wottawah, Stefan Schinkinger, Bryan Lincoln, Maren Romeyke, Tess Moon, Josef Kaes
JOURNAL OF THEORETICAL BIOLOGY 255(1) 162-162 (2008) | Journal
The optical cell rotator
Moritz K. Kreysing, Tobias Kiessling, Anatol Fritsch, Christian Dietrich, Jochen Guck, Josef A. Kaes
OPTICS EXPRESS 16(21) 16984-16992 (2008) | Journal
The optical cell rotator (OCR) is a modified dual-beam laser trap for the holding and controlled rotation of suspended dielectric microparticles, such as cells. In contrast to optical tweezers, OCR uses two counter-propagating divergent laser beams, which are shaped and delivered by optical fibers. The rotation of a trapped specimen is carried out by the rotation of a dual-mode fiber, emitting an asymmetric laser beam. Experiments were performed on human erythrocytes, promyelocytic leukemia cells (HL60), and cell clusters (MCF-7). Since OCR permits the rotation of cells around an axis perpendicular to the optical axis of any microscope and is fully decoupled from imaging optics, it could be a suitable and expedient tool for tomographic microscopy. (C) 2008 Optical Society of America
Fluorescence ratio thermometry in a microfluidic dual-beam laser trap
Susanne Ebert, Kort Travis, Bryan Lincoln, Jochen Guck
OPTICS EXPRESS 15(23) 15493-15499 (2007) | Journal
The dual-beam laser trap is a versatile tool with many possible applications. In order to characterize its thermal properties in a microfluidic trap geometry we have developed a non-intrusive fluorescence ratio technique using the temperature sensitive dye Rhodamine B and the temperature independent reference dye Rhodamine 110. We measured temperature distribution profiles in the trap with submicron spatial resolution on a confocal laser-scanning microscope. The maximum heating in the center of the trap amounts to (13 +/- 2) degrees C/W for a wavelength of lambda = 1064 nm and scales linearly with the applied power. The measurements correspond well with simulated temperature distributions. (c) 2007 Optical Society of America.
High-throughput rheological measurements with an optical stretcher
Bryan Lincoln, Falk Wottawah, Stefan Schinkinger, Susanne Ebert, Jochen Guck
Methods in Cell Biology 83 397-423 (2007) | Journal
The cytoskeleton is a major determinant of the mechanical strength and morphology of most cells. The composition and assembly state of this intracellular polymer network evolve during the differentiation of cells, and the structure is involved in many cellular functions and is characteristically altered in many diseases, including cancer. Here we exploit the deformability of the cytoskeleton as a link between molecular structure and biological function, to distinguish between cells in different states by using a laser-based optical stretcher (OS) coupled with microfluidic handling of cells. An OS is a cell-slized, dual-beam laser trap designed to nondestructively test the deformability of single suspended cells. Combined with microfluidic delivery, many cells can be measured serially in a short amount of time. With this tool it could be shown that optical deformability is sensitive enough to monitor subtle changes during the progression of cells from normal to cancerous and even a metastatic state. Stem cells can also be distinguished from more differentiated cells. The surprisingly low number of cells required for this assay reflects the tight regulation of the cytoskeleton by the cell. This suggests the possibility of using optical deformability as an inherent cell marker for basic cell biological investigation, diagnosis of disease, and sorting of stem cells from heterogeneous populations, obviating the need for external markers or special preparation. Many additional biological assays can be easily adapted to utilize this innovative physical method. This chapter details the setup and use of the microfluidic OS, the analysis and interpretation of data, and the results of a typical experiment.
Müller cells are living optical fibers in the vertebrate retina
Kristian Franze, Jens Grosche, Serguei N. Skatchkov, Stefan Schinkinger, Christian Foja, Detlev Schlid, Ortrud Uckermann, Kort Travis, Andreas Reichenbach, et al.
PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 104(20) 8287-8292 (2007) | Journal
Although biological cells are mostly transparent, they are phase objects that differ in shape and refractive index. Any image that is projected through layers of randomly oriented cells will normally be distorted by refraction, reflection, and scattering. Counterintuitively, the retina of the vertebrate eye is inverted with respect to its optical function and light must pass through several tissue layers before reaching the light-detecting photoreceptor cells. Here we report on the specific optical properties of glial cells present in the retina, which might contribute to optimize this apparently unfavorable situation. We investigated intact retinal tissue and individual Miller cells, which are radial glial cells spanning the entire retinal thickness. Muller cells have an extended funnel shape, a higher refractive index than their surrounding tissue, and are oriented along the direction of light propagation. Transmission and reflection confocal microscopy of retinal tissue in vitro and in vivo showed that these cells provide a low-scattering passage for light from the retinal surface to the photoreceptor cells. Using a modified dual-beam laser trap we could also demonstrate that individual Muller cells act as optical fibers. Furthermore, their parallel array in the retina is reminiscent of fiberoptic plates used for low-distortion image transfer. Thus, Miller cells seem to mediate the image transfer through the vertebrate retina with minimal distortion and low loss. This finding elucidates a fundamental feature of the inverted retina as an optical system and ascribes a new function to glial cells.
Reconfigurable microfluidic integration of a dual-beam laser trap with biomedical applications
Bryan Lincoln, Stefan Schinkinger, Kort Travis, Falk Wottawah, Susanne Ebert, Frank Sauer, Jochen Guck
BIOMEDICAL MICRODEVICES 9(5) 703-710 (2007) | Journal
A dual-beam fiber laser trap, termed the optical stretcher when used to deform objects, has been combined with a capillary-based microfluidic system in order to serially trap and deform biological cells. The design allows for control over the size and position of the trap relative to the flow channel. Data is recorded using video phase contrast microscopy and is subsequently analyzed using a custom edge fitting routine. This setup has been regularly used with measuring rates of 50-100 cells/h. One such experiment is presented to compare the distribution of deformability found within a normal epithelial cell line to that of a cancerous one. In general, this microfluidic optical stretcher can be used for the characterization of cells by their viscoelastic signature. Possible applications include the cytological diagnosis of cancer and the gentle and marker-free sorting of stem cells from heterogeneous populations for therapeutic cell-based approaches in regenerative medicine.
The microscopy cell (MicCell), a versatile modular flowthrough system for cell biology, biomaterial research, and nanotechnology
FU Gast, PS Dittrich, P Schwille, M Weigel, M Mertig, J Opitz, U Queitsch, S Diez, B Lincoln, et al.
MICROFLUIDICS AND NANOFLUIDICS 2(1) 21-36 (2006) | Journal
We describe a novel microfluldic perfusion system for high-resolution microscopes. Its modular design allows pre-coating of the coverslip surface with reagents, biomolecules, or cells. A poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) layer is cast in a special molding station, using masters made by photolithography and dry etching of silicon or by photoresist patterning on glass or silicon. This channel system can be reused while the coverslip is exchanged between experiments. As normal fluidic connectors are used, the link to external, computer-programmable syringe pumps is standardized and various fluidic channel networks can be used in the same setup. The system can house hydrogel microvalves and microelectrodes close to the imaging area to control the influx of reaction partners. We present a range of applications, including single-molecule analysis by fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS), manipulation of single molecules for nanostructuring by hydrodynamic flow fields or the action of motor proteins, generation of concentration gradients, trapping and stretching of live cells using optical fibers precisely mounted in the PDMS layer, and the integration of microelectrodes for actuation and sensing.
Viscoelastic properties of individual glial cells and neurons in the CNS
Yun-Bi Lu, Kristian Franze, Gerald Seifert, Christian Steinhaeuser, Frank Kirchhoff, Hartwig Wolburg, Jochen Guck, Paul Janmey, Er-Qing Wei, et al.
PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 103(47) 17759-17764 (2006) | Journal
One hundred fifty years ago glia I cells were discovered as a second, non-neuronal, cell type in the central nervous system. To ascribe a function to these new, enigmatic cells, it was suggested that they either glue the neurons together (the Greek word "gamma lambda i alpha" means "glue") or provide a robust scaffold for them ("support cells"). Although both speculations are still widely accepted, they would actually require quite different mechanical cell properties, and neither one has ever been confirmed experimentally. We investigated the biomechanics of CNS tissue and acutely isolated individual neurons and glial cells from mammalian brain (hippocampus) and retina. Scanning force microscopy, bulk rheology, and optically induced deformation were used to determine their viscoelastic characteristics. We found that (i) in all CNS cells the elastic behavior dominates over the viscous behavior, (it) in distinct cell compartments, such as soma and cell processes, the mechanical properties differ, most likely because of the unequal local distribution of cell organelles, (iii) in comparison to most other eukaryotic cells, both neurons and glial cells are very soft ("rubber elastic"), and (iv) intriguingly, glial cells are even softer than their neighboring neurons. Our results indicate that glial cells can neither serve as structural support cells (as they are too soft) nor as glue (because restoring forces are dominant) for neurons. Nevertheless, from a structural perspective they might act as soft, compliant embedding for neurons, protecting them in case of mechanical trauma, and also as a soft substrate required for neurite growth and facilitating neuronal plasticity.
Characterizing single suspended cells by optorheology
F Wottawah, S Schinkinger, B Lincoln, S Ebert, K Muller, F Sauer, K Travis, Jochen Guck
ACTA BIOMATERIALIA 1(3) 263-271 (2005) | Journal
The measurement of the mechanical properties of individual cells has received much attention in recent years. In this paper we describe the application of optically induced forces with an optical stretcher to perform step-stress experiments on individual suspended fibroblasts. The conversion from creep-compliance to frequency-dependent complex shear modulus reveals characteristic viscoelastic signatures of the underlying cytoskeleton and its dynamic molecular properties. Both normal and cancerous fibroblasts display a single stress relaxation time in the observed time and frequency space that can be related to the transient binding of actin crosslinking proteins. In addition, shear modulus and steady-state viscosity of the shell-like actin cortex as the main module resisting small deformations are extracted. These values in combination with insight into the cells' architecture are used to explain their different deformability. This difference can then be exploited to distinguish normal from cancerous cells. The nature of the optical stretcher as an optical trap allows easy incorporation in a microfluidic system with automatic trapping and alignment of the cells, and thus a high measurement throughput. This carries the potential for using the microfluidic optical stretcher to investigate cellular processes involving the cytoskeleton and to diagnose diseases related to cytoskeletal alterations. (c) 2005 Acta Materialia Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Modelling the structural response of an eukaryotic cell in the optical stretcher
R Ananthakrishnan, Jochen Guck, F Wottawah, S Schinkinger, B Lincoln, M Romeyke, J Kas
CURRENT SCIENCE 88(9) 1434-1440 (2005)
The cytoskeleton of an eukaryotic cell is a composite polymer material with unique structural (mechanical) properties. To investigate the role of individual cytoskeletal polymers in the deformation response of a cell to an external force (stress), we created two structural models - a thick shell model for the actin cortex, and a three-layered model for the whole cell. These structural models for a cell are based on data obtained by deforming suspended cells, where each cell is stretched between two counter-propagating laser beams using an optical stretcher. Our models, with the data, suggest that the outer actin cortex is the main determinant of the structural response of the cell.
Optical deformability as an inherent cell marker for testing malignant transformation and metastatic competence
Jochen Guck, S Schinkinger, B Lincoln, F Wottawah, S Ebert, M Romeyke, D Lenz, HM Erickson, R Ananthakrishnan, et al.
BIOPHYSICAL JOURNAL 88(5) 3689-3698 (2005) | Journal
The relationship between the mechanical properties of cells and their molecular architecture has been the focus of extensive research for decades. The cytoskeleton, an internal polymer network, in particular determines a cell's mechanical strength and morphology. This cytoskeleton evolves during the normal differentiation of cells, is involved in many cellular functions, and is characteristically altered in many diseases, including cancer. Here we examine this hypothesized link between function and elasticity, enabling the distinction between different cells, by using a microfluidic optical stretcher, a two-beam laser trap optimized to serially deform single suspended cells by optically induced surface forces. In contrast to previous cell elasticity measurement techniques, statistically relevant numbers of single cells can be measured in rapid succession through microfluidic delivery, without any modi. cation or contact. We find that optical deformability is sensitive enough to monitor the subtle changes during the progression of mouse fibroblasts and human breast epithelial cells from normal to cancerous and even metastatic state. The surprisingly low numbers of cells required for this distinction reflect the tight regulation of the cytoskeleton by the cell. This suggests using optical deformability as an inherent cell marker for basic cell biological investigation and diagnosis of disease.
Optical rheology of biological cells
F Wottawah, S Schinkinger, B Lincoln, R Ananthakrishnan, M Romeyke, Jochen Guck, J Kas
PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS 94(9) 098103 (2005) | Journal
A step stress deforming suspended cells causes a passive relaxation, due to a transiently cross-linked isotropic actin cortex underlying the cellular membrane. The fluid-to-solid transition occurs at a relaxation time coinciding with unbinding times of actin cross-linking proteins. Elastic contributions from slowly relaxing entangled filaments are negligible. The symmetric geometry of suspended cells ensures minimal statistical variability in their viscoelastic properties in contrast with adherent cells and thus is defining for different cell types. Mechanical stimuli on time scales of minutes trigger active structural responses.
Deformability-based flow cytometry
B Lincoln, HM Erickson, S Schinkinger, F Wottawah, D Mitchell, S Ulvick, C Bilby, Jochen Guck
CYTOMETRY PART A 59A(2) 203-209 (2004) | Journal
Background: Elasticity of cells is determined by their cytoskeleton. Changes in cellular function are reflected in the amount of cytoskeletal proteins and their associated networks. Drastic examples are diseases such as cancer, in which the altered cytoskeleton is even diagnostic. This connection between cellular function and cytoskeletal mechanical properties suggests using the deformability of cells as a novel inherent cell marker.<br> Methods: The optical stretcher is a new laser tool capable of measuring cellular deformability. A unique feature of this deformation technique is its potential for high throughput, with the incorporation of a microfluidic delivery of cells.<br> Results: Rudimentary implementation of the microfluidic optical stretcher has been used to measure optical deformability of several normal and cancerous cell types. A drastic difference has been seen between the response of red blood cells and polymorphonuclear cells for a given optically induced stress. MCF-10, MCF-7, and modMCF-7 cells were also measured, showing that while cancer cells stretched significantly more (five times) than normal cells, optical deformability could even be used to distinguish metastatic cancer cells from nonmetastatic cancer cells. This trimodal distribution was apparent after measuring a mere 83 cells, which shows optical deformability to be a highly regulated cell marker.<br> Conclusions: Preliminary work suggests a deformability based cell sorter similar to current fluorescence-based flow cytometry without the need for specific labeling. This could be used for the diagnosis of all diseases, and the investigation of all cellular processes, that affect the cytoskeleton. (C) 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Stretching biological cells with light
Jochen Guck, R Ananthakrishnan, CC Cunningham, J Kas
JOURNAL OF PHYSICS-CONDENSED MATTER 14(19) PII S0953-8984(02)29158-4 4843-4856 (2002) | Journal
The radiation pressure of two counter-propagating laser beams traps and stretches individual biological cells. Using non-focused laser beams, cells stay viable when irradiated with up to 1.4 W of 780 nm Ti-sapphire laser light for several minutes. Fluorescence microscopy has demonstrated that the essential features of the cytoskeleton, excluding stress fibres, are maintained for stretched cells in suspension. The optical stretcher provides accurate measurements of whole cell elasticity and thus can distinguish between different cells by their cytoskeletal characteristics. A model has been derived for the forces on the surface of a spherical cell that explains the observed deformations. The peak stresses on the surface of cells are 1-150 Pa for light powers of 0.2-1.4 W and depending on the refractive index of the cell trapped. Precursors of rat nerve cells exhibit a homogeneous Young's modulus E of 500 25 Pa, whereas for osmotically inflated, spherical red blood cells (RBCs) the homogeneous Young's modulus is E = 11.0 +/- 0.5 Pa. Thus, PC12 cells are about 40-50 times more elastic than RBCs.
The optical stretcher: A novel laser tool to micromanipulate cells
Jochen Guck, R Ananthakrishnan, H Mahmood, TJ Moon, CC Cunningham, J Kas
BIOPHYSICAL JOURNAL 81(2) 767-784 (2001) | Journal
When a dielectric object is placed between two opposed, nonfocused laser beams, the total force acting on the object is zero but the surface forces are additive, thus leading to a stretching of the object along the axis of the beams. Using this principle, we have constructed a device, called an optical stretcher, that can be used to measure the viscoelastic properties of dielectric materials, including biologic materials such as cells, with the sensitivity necessary to distinguish even between different individual cytoskeletal phenotypes. We have successfully used the optical stretcher to deform human erythrocytes and mouse fibroblasts. In the optical stretcher, no focusing is required, thus radiation damage is minimized and the surface forces are not limited by the light power. The magnitude of the deforming forces in the optical stretcher thus bridges the gap between optical tweezers and atomic force microscopy for the study of biologic materials.
Optical deformability of soft biological dielectrics
Jochen Guck, R Ananthakrishnan, TJ Moon, CC Cunningham, J Kas
PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS 84(23) 5451-5454 (2000) | Journal
Two counterpropagating laser beams were used to significantly stretch soft dielectrics such as cells, The deforming forces act on the surface between the object and the surrounding medium and are considerably higher than the trapping forces on the object. Radiation damage is avoided since a double-beam trap does not require focusing for stable trapping. Ray optics was used to describe the stress profile on the surface of the trapped object. Measuring the total forces and deformations of well-defined elastic objects validated this approach.
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