Cells are the basic entities of biological systems. They have particular physical properties, which enable them to navigate their 3D physical environment and fulfill their biological functions. We investigate these physical – mechanical and optical – properties of living cells and tissues using novel photonics and biophysical tools to test their biological importance. Our ultimate goal is the transfer of our findings to medical application in the fields of improved diagnosis of diseases and novel approaches in regenerative medicine.
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Cells actively sense and respond to a variety of mechanical signals — a process known as mechanosensing. Mechanical cues provided by the extracellular environment can modulate a wide spectrum of cellular events, including cell proliferation, differentiation and protein production. Read More...
Cells define and largely form their surrounding tissues and, in return, receive biochemical and physical cues from them. We are working on resolving this interdependence by quantifying these tissue mechanical properties, correlating them with biological function, investigating their origin and ultimately controlling them. Read More...
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.
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