Publications by authors named "Ian C Schneider"

28 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Cancer cell migration in collagen-hyaluronan composite extracellular matrices.

Acta Biomater 2021 Aug 8;130:183-198. Epub 2021 Jun 8.

Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Iowa State University, United States; Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology, Iowa State University, United States. Electronic address:

Hyaluronan (HA) is a key component in the tumor microenvironment (TME) that participates in cancer growth and invasiveness. While the molecular weight (MW) dependent properties of HA can cause tumor-promoting and -repressing effects, the elevated levels of HA in the TME impedes drug delivery. The degradation of HA using hyaluronidases (HYALs), resulting in fragments of HA, is a way to overcome this, but the consequences of changes in HA molecular weight and concentration is currently unknown. Therefore, it is critical to understand the MW-dependent biological effects of HA. Here we examine the influence of HA molecular weight on biophysical properties that regulate cell migration and extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling. In our study, we used vLMW, LMW and HMW HA at different physiologically relevant concentrations, with a particular interest in correlating the mechanical and structural properties to different cell functions. The elastic modulus, collagen network pore size and collagen fiber diameter increased with increasing HA concentration. Although the collagen network pore size increased, these pores were filled with the bulky HA molecules. Consequently, cell migration decreased with increase in HA concentration due to multiple, long-lived and unproductive protrusions, suggesting the influence of steric factors. Surprisingly, even though elastic modulus increased with HA molecular weight and concentration, gel compaction assays showed an increased degree of ECM compaction among HMW HA gels at high concentrations (2 and 4 mg mL [0.2 and 0.4%]). These results were not seen in collagen gels that lacked HA, but had similar stiffness. HA appears to have the effect of decreasing migration and increasing collagen network contraction, but only at high HA molecular weight. Consequently, changes in HA molecular weight can have relatively large effects on cancer cell behavior. STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE: Hyaluronan (HA) is a critical component of the tumor microenvironment (TME). Overproduction of HA in the TME results in poor prognosis and collapse of blood vessels, inhibiting drug delivery. Hyaluronidases have been used to enhance drug delivery. However, they lead to low molecular weight (MW) HA, altering the mechanical and structural properties of the TME and cancer cell behavior. Understanding how HA degradation affects cancer cell behavior is critical for uncovering detrimental effects of this therapy. Very little is known about how HA MW affects cancer cell behavior in tumor-mimicking collagen-HA composite networks. Here we examine how MW and HA content in collagen-HA networks alter structural and mechanical properties to regulate cell migration and matrix remodeling in 3D TME-mimicking environments.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.actbio.2021.06.009DOI Listing
August 2021

Degradation and Remodeling of Epitaxially Grown Collagen Fibrils.

Cell Mol Bioeng 2019 Feb 16;12(1):69-84. Epub 2018 Aug 16.

Present Address: Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Iowa State University, 2114 Sweeney Hall, Ames, IA 50011-2230 USA.

Introduction—: The extracellular matrix (ECM) in the tumor microenvironment contains high densities of collagen that are highly aligned, resulting in directional migration called contact guidance that facilitates efficient migration out of the tumor. Cancer cells can remodel the ECM through traction force controlled by myosin contractility or proteolytic activity controlled by matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) activity, leading to either enhanced or diminished contact guidance.

Methods—: Recently, we have leveraged the ability of mica to epitaxially grow aligned collagen fibrils in order to assess contact guidance. In this article, we probe the mechanisms of remodeling of aligned collagen fibrils on mica by breast cancer cells.

Results—: We show that cells that contact guide with high fidelity (MDA-MB-231 cells) exert more force on the underlying collagen fibrils than do cells that contact guide with low fidelity (MTLn3 cells). These high traction cells (MDA-MB-231 cells) remodel collagen fibrils over hours, pulling so hard that the collagen fibrils detach from the surface, effectively delaminating the entire contact guidance cue. Myosin or MMP inhibition decreases this effect. Interestingly, blocking MMP appears to increase the alignment of cells on these substrates, potentially allowing the alignment through myosin contractility to be uninhibited. Finally, amplification or dampening of contact guidance with respect to a particular collagen fibril organization is seen under different conditions.

Conclusions—: Both myosin II contractility and MMP activity allow MDA-MB-231 cells to remodel and eventually destroy epitaxially grown aligned collagen fibrils.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12195-018-0547-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6472930PMC
February 2019

Tuning surface functionalization and collagen gel thickness to regulate cancer cell migration.

Colloids Surf B Biointerfaces 2019 Jul 16;179:37-47. Epub 2019 Mar 16.

Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Iowa State University, United States; Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology, Iowa State University, United States. Electronic address:

Cancer cells have a tremendous ability to sense and respond to extracellular matrix (ECM) stiffness, modulating invasion. The magnitude of the sensed stiffness can either promote or inhibit the migration of cancer cells out of the primary tumor into surrounding tissue. Work has been done on examining the role of stiffness in tuning cancer cell migration by controlling elastic modulus in the bulk. However, a powerful and complementary approach for controlling stiffness is to leverage interactions between stiff-soft (e.g. glass-hydrogel) interfaces. Unfortunately, most work in this area probes cells in 2D environments. Of the reports that probe 3D environments, none have assessed the role of mechanical linkage to the interface as a potential handle in controlling local stiffness and cell behavior. In this paper, we examine the migration of cancer cells embedded in a collagen fiber network between two flat plates. We examine the role of both surface attachment of the collagen network to the stiff interface as well as thickness (50-540 μm) of the collagen gel in driving collagen organization, cell morphology and cell migration. We find that surface attachment and thickness do not operate overlapping mechanisms, because they elicit different cell responses. While thickness and surface chemistry appear to control morphology, only thickness regulates collagen organization and cell migration speed. This suggests that surface attachment and thickness of the collagen gel control cell behavior through both collagen structure and local stiffness in confined fiber-forming networks.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.colsurfb.2019.03.031DOI Listing
July 2019

Pentablock Copolymer Micelle Nanoadjuvants Enhance Cytosolic Delivery of Antigen and Improve Vaccine Efficacy while Inducing Low Inflammation.

ACS Biomater Sci Eng 2019 Mar 18;5(3):1332-1342. Epub 2019 Feb 18.

Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50011, United States.

As the focus has shifted from traditional killed or live, attenuated vaccines toward subunit vaccines, improvements in vaccine safety have been confronted with low immunogenicity of protein antigens. This issue has been addressed by synthesizing and designing a wide variety of antigen carriers and adjuvants, such as Toll-like receptor agonists (e.g., MPLA, CpG). Studies have focused on optimizing adjuvants for improved cellular trafficking, cytosolic availability, and improved antigen presentation. In this work, we describe the design of novel amphiphilic pentablock copolymer (PBC) adjuvants that exhibit high biocompatibility and reversible pH- and temperature-sensitive micelle formation. We demonstrate improved humoral immunity in mice in response to single-dose immunization with PBC micelle adjuvants compared with soluble antigen alone. With the motive of exploring the mechanism of action of these PBC micelles, we studied intracellular trafficking of these PBC micelles with a model antigen and demonstrated that the PBC micelles associate with the antigen and enhance its cytosolic delivery to antigen-presenting cells. We posit that these PBC micelles operate via immune-enhancing mechanisms that are different from that of traditional Toll-like receptor activating adjuvants. The metabolic profile of antigen-presenting cells stimulated with traditional adjuvants and the PBC micelles also suggests distinct mechanisms of action. A key finding from this study is the low production of nitric oxide and reactive oxygen species by antigen-presenting cells when stimulated by PBC micelle adjuvants in sharp contrast to TLR adjuvants. Together, these studies provide a basis for rationally developing novel vaccine adjuvants that are safe, that induce low inflammation, and that can efficiently deliver antigen to the cytosol.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsbiomaterials.8b01591DOI Listing
March 2019

Transfer of assembled collagen fibrils to flexible substrates for mechanically tunable contact guidance cues.

Integr Biol (Camb) 2018 11;10(11):705-718

Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Iowa State University, USA.

Contact guidance or bidirectional migration along aligned fibers modulates many physiological and pathological processes such as wound healing and cancer invasion. Aligned 2D collagen fibrils epitaxially grown on mica substrates replicate many features of contact guidance seen in aligned 3D collagen fiber networks. However, these 2D collagen self-assembled substrates are difficult to image through, do not have known or tunable mechanical properties and cells degrade and mechanically detach collagen fibrils from the surface, leading to an inability to assess contact guidance over long times. Here, we describe the transfer of aligned collagen fibrils from mica substrates to three different functionalized target substrates: glass, polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) and polyacrylamide (PA). Aligned collagen fibrils can be efficiently transferred to all three substrates. This transfer resulted in substrates that were to varying degrees resistant to cell-mediated collagen fibril deformation that resulted in detachment of the collagen fibril field, allowing for contact guidance to be observed over longer time periods. On these transferred substrates, cell speed is lowest on softer contact guidance cues for both MDA-MB-231 and MTLn3 cells. Intermediate stiffness resulted in the fastest migration. MTLn3 cell directionality was low on soft contact guidance cues, whereas MDA-MB-231 cell directionality marginally increased. It appears that the stiffness of the contact guidance cue regulates contact guidance differently between cell types. The development of this collagen fibril transfer method allows for the attachment of aligned collagen fibrils on substrates, particularly flexible substrates, that do not normally promote aligned collagen fibril growth, increasing the utility of this collagen self-assembly system for the fundamental examination of mechanical regulation of contact guidance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/c8ib00127hDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6267882PMC
November 2018

Correction to: Microtissue size and cell-cell communication modulate cell migration in arrayed 3D collagen gels.

Biomed Microdevices 2018 09 18;20(4):84. Epub 2018 Sep 18.

Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Iowa State University, 2114 Sweeney Hall, Ames, IA, 50011-2230, USA.

The original version of this article unfortunately contained a mistake. One line indicating statistical significance was improperly placed in Fig. 5.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10544-018-0330-4DOI Listing
September 2018

Microtissue size and cell-cell communication modulate cell migration in arrayed 3D collagen gels.

Biomed Microdevices 2018 07 30;20(3):62. Epub 2018 Jul 30.

Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Iowa State University, 2114 Sweeney Hall, Ames, IA, 50011-2230, USA.

Cells communicate through the extracellular matrix (ECM) in many physiological and pathological processes. This is particularly important during cell migration, where cell communication can alter both the speed and the direction of migration. However, most cell culture systems operate with large volumes relative to cell numbers, creating low cell densities and diluting factors that mediate cell communication. Furthermore, they lack the ability to isolate single cells or small groups of cells. Droplet forming devices allow for an ability to embed single or small groups of cells into small volume segregated 3D environments, increasing the cell density to physiological levels. In this paper we show a microfluidic droplet device for fabricating 3D collagen-based microtissues to study breast cancer cell motility. MDA-MB-231 cells fail to spread and divide in small, thin chambers. Cell migration is also stunted as compared to thick 3D gels. However, larger chambers formed by a thicker devices promote cell spreading, cell division and faster migration. In the large devices, both cell-ECM and cell-cell interactions affect cell motility. Increasing collagen density decreases cell migration and increasing the number of cells per chamber increases cell migration speed. Furthermore, cells appear to sense both the ECM-chamber wall interface as well as other cells. Cells migrate towards the ECM-chamber interface if within roughly 150 μm, whereas cells further than 150 μm tend to move towards the center of the chamber. Finally, while cells do not show enhanced movement towards the center of mass of a cell cluster, their migration speed is more variable when further away from the cell cluster center of mass. These results show that microfluidic droplet devices can array 3D collagen gels and promote cell spreading, division and migration similar to what is seen in thick 3D collagen gels. Furthermore, they can provide a new avenue to study cell migration and cell-cell communication at physiologically relevant cell densities.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10544-018-0309-1DOI Listing
July 2018

Contact guidance diversity in rotationally aligned collagen matrices.

Acta Biomater 2018 01 28;66:248-257. Epub 2017 Nov 28.

Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Iowa State University, United States; Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology, Iowa State University, United States. Electronic address:

Cancer cell metastasis is responsible for approximately 90% of deaths related to cancer. The migration of cancer cells away from the primary tumor and into healthy tissue is driven in part by contact guidance, or directed migration in response to aligned extracellular matrix. While contact guidance has been a focus of many studies, much of this research has explored environments that present 2D contact guidance structures. Contact guidance environments in 3D more closely resemble in vivo conditions and model cell-ECM interactions better than 2D environments. While most cells engage in directed migration on potent 2D contact guidance cues, there is diversity in response to contact guidance cues based on whether the cell migrates with a mesenchymal or amoeboid migration mode. In this paper, rotational alignment of collagen gels was used to study the differences in contact guidance between MDA-MB-231 (mesenchymal) and MTLn3 (amoeboid) cells. MDA-MB-231 cells migrate with high directional fidelity in aligned collagen gels, while MTLn3 cells show no directional migration. The collagen stiffness was increased through glycation, resulting in decreased MDA-MB-231 directionality in aligned collagen gels. Interestingly, partial inhibition of cell contractility dramatically decreased directionality in MDA-MB-231 cells. The directionality of MDA-MB-231 cells was most sensitive to ROCK inhibition, but unlike in 2D contact guidance environments, cell directionality and speed are more tightly coupled. Modulation of the contractile apparatus appears to more potently affect contact guidance than modulation of extracellular mechanical properties of the contact guidance cue.

Statement Of Significance: Collagen fiber alignment in the tumor microenvironment directs migration, a process called contact guidance, enhancing the efficiency of cancer invasion and metastasis. 3D systems that assess contact guidance by locally orienting collagen fiber alignment are lacking. Furthermore, cell type differences and the role of extracellular matrix stiffness in tuning contact guidance fidelity are not well characterized. In this paper rotational alignment of collagen fibers is used as a 3D contact guidance cue to illuminate cell type differences and the role of extracellular matrix stiffness in guiding cell migration along aligned fibers of collagen. This local alignment offers a simple approach by which to couple collagen alignment with gradients in other directional cues in devices such as microfluidic chambers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.actbio.2017.11.039DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5750117PMC
January 2018

Direct expression of active human tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases by periplasmic secretion in Escherichia coli.

Microb Cell Fact 2017 Apr 28;16(1):73. Epub 2017 Apr 28.

Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Riverside, 900 University Ave, Riverside, CA, 92521, USA.

Background: As regulators of multifunctional metalloproteinases including MMP, ADAM and ADAMTS families, tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs) play a pivotal role in extracellular matrix remodeling, which is involved in a wide variety of physiological processes. Since abnormal metalloproteinase activities are related to numerous diseases such as arthritis, cancer, atherosclerosis, and neurological disorders, TIMPs and their engineered mutants hold therapeutic potential and thus have been extensively studied. Traditional productions of functional TIMPs and their N-terminal inhibitory domains (N-TIMPs) rely on costly and time-consuming insect and mammalian cell systems, or tedious and inefficient refolding from denatured inclusion bodies. The later process is also associated with heterogeneous products and batch-to-batch variation.

Results: In this study, we developed a simple approach to directly produce high yields of active TIMPs in the periplasmic space of Escherichia coli without refolding. Facilitated by disulfide isomerase (DsbC) co-expression in protease-deficient strain BL21 (DE3), N-TIMP-1/-2 and TIMP-2 which contain multiple disulfide bonds were produced without unwanted truncations. 0.2-1.4 mg purified monomeric TIMPs were typically yielded per liter of culture media. Periplasmically produced TIMPs exhibited expected inhibition potencies towards MMP-1/2/7/14, and were functional in competitive ELISA to elucidate the binding epitopes of MMP specific antibodies. In addition, prepared N-TIMPs were fully active in a cellular context, i.e. regulating cancer cell morphology and migration in 2D and 3D bioassays.

Conclusion: Periplasmic expression in E. coli is an excellent strategy to recombinantly produce active TIMPs and N-TIMPs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12934-017-0686-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5410052PMC
April 2017

Myosin phosphorylation on stress fibers predicts contact guidance behavior across diverse breast cancer cells.

Biomaterials 2017 03 28;120:81-93. Epub 2016 Nov 28.

Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Iowa State University, USA; Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology, Iowa State University, USA. Electronic address:

During cancer progression the extracellular matrix is remodeled, forming aligned collagen fibers that proceed radially from the tumor, resulting in invasion. We have recently shown that different invasive breast cancer cells respond to epitaxially grown, aligned collagen fibrils differently. This article develops insight into why these cells differ in their contact guidance fidelity. Small changes in contractility or adhesion dramatically alter directional persistence on aligned collagen fibrils, while migration speed remains constant. The directionality of highly contractile and adhesive MDA-MB-231 cells can be diminished by inhibiting Rho kinase or β1 integrin binding. Inversely, the directionality of less contractile and adhesive MTLn3 cells can be enhanced by activating contractility or integrins. Subtle, but quantifiable alterations in myosin II regulatory light chain phosphorylation on stress fibers explain the tuning of contact guidance fidelity, separate from migration per se indicating that the contractile and adhesive state of the cell in combination with collagen organization in the tumor microenvironment determine the efficiency of migration. Understanding how distinct cells respond to contact guidance cues will not only illuminate mechanisms for cancer invasion, but will also allow for the design of environments to separate specific subpopulations of cells from patient-derived tissues by leveraging differences in responses to directional migration cues.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biomaterials.2016.11.035DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5291342PMC
March 2017

Epitaxially grown collagen fibrils reveal diversity in contact guidance behavior among cancer cells.

Langmuir 2015 22;31(1):307-14. Epub 2014 Dec 22.

Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and ‡Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology, Iowa State University , Ames, Iowa 50011-2230, United States.

Invasion of cancer cells into the surrounding tissue is an important step during cancer progression and is driven by cell migration. Cell migration can be random, but often it is directed by various cues such as aligned fibers composed of extracellular matrix (ECM), a process called contact guidance. During contact guidance, aligned fibers bias migration along the long axis of the fibers. These aligned fibers of ECM are commonly composed of type I collagen, an abundant structural protein around tumors. In this paper, we epitaxially grew several different patterns of organized type I collagen on mica and compared the morphology and contact guidance behavior of two invasive breast cancer cell lines (MDA-MB-231 and MTLn3 cells). Others have shown that these cells randomly migrate in qualitatively different ways. MDA-MB-231 cells exert large traction forces, tightly adhere to the ECM, and migrate with spindle-shaped morphology and thus adopt a mesenchymal mode of migration. MTLn3 cells exert small traction forces, loosely adhere to the ECM, and migrate with a more rounded morphology and thus adopt an amoeboid mode of migration. As the degree of alignment of type I collagen fibrils increases, cells become more elongated and engage in more directed contact guidance. MDA-MB-231 cells perceive the directional signal of highly aligned type I collagen fibrils with high fidelity, elongating to large extents and migrating directionally. Interestingly, behavior in MTLn3 cells differs. While highly aligned type I collagen fibril patterns facilitate spreading and random migration of MTLn3 cells, they do not support elongation or directed migration. Thus, different contact guidance cues bias cell migration differently and the fidelity of contact guidance is cell type dependent, suggesting that ECM alignment is a permissive cue for contact guidance, but requires a cell to have certain properties to interpret that cue.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/la503254xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4295811PMC
March 2016

Collagen attachment to the substrate controls cell clustering through migration.

Phys Biol 2014 Sep 15;11(5):056007. Epub 2014 Sep 15.

Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Iowa State University, USA.

Cell clustering and scattering play important roles in cancer progression and tissue engineering. While the extracellular matrix (ECM) is known to control cell clustering, much of the quantitative work has focused on the analysis of clustering between cells with strong cell-cell junctions. Much less is known about how the ECM regulates cells with weak cell-cell contact. Clustering characteristics were quantified in rat adenocarcinoma cells, which form clusters on physically adsorbed collagen substrates, but not on covalently attached collagen substrates. Covalently attaching collagen inhibited desorption of collagen from the surface. While changes in proliferation rate could not explain differences seen in the clustering, changes in cell motility could. Cells plated under conditions that resulted in more clustering had a lower persistence time and slower migration rate than those under conditions that resulted in less clustering. Understanding how the ECM regulates clustering will not only impact the fundamental understanding of cancer progression, but also will guide the design of tissue engineered constructs that allow for the clustering or dissemination of cells throughout the construct.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1088/1478-3975/11/5/056007DOI Listing
September 2014

Matrix metalloproteinase-14 is a mechanically regulated activator of secreted MMPs and invasion.

Biochem Biophys Res Commun 2014 Jul 27;450(1):213-8. Epub 2014 May 27.

Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Iowa State University, 2114 Sweeney Hall, Ames, IA 50011-2230, United States; Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology, Iowa State University, 1210 Molecular Biology Building, Ames, IA 50011-3260, United States. Electronic address:

Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are extracellular matrix (ECM) degrading enzymes and have complex and specific regulation networks. This includes activation interactions, where one MMP family member activates another. ECM degradation and MMP activation can be initiated by several different stimuli including changes in ECM mechanical properties or intracellular contractility. These mechanical stimuli are known enhancers of metastatic potential. MMP-14 facilitates local ECM degradation and is well known as a major mediator of cell migration, angiogenesis and invasion. Recently, function blocking antibodies have been developed to specifically block MMP-14, providing a useful tool for research as well as therapeutic applications. Here we utilize a selective MMP-14 function blocking antibody to delineate the role of MMP-14 as an activator of other MMPs in response to changes in cellular contractility and ECM stiffness. Inhibition using function blocking antibodies reveals that MMP-14 activates soluble MMPs like MMP-2 and -9 under various mechanical stimuli in the pancreatic cancer cell line, Panc-1. In addition, inhibition of MMP-14 abates Panc-1 cell extension into 3D gels to levels seen with non-specific pan-MMP inhibitors at higher concentrations. This strengthens the case for MMP function blocking antibodies as more potent and specific MMP inhibition therapeutics.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbrc.2014.05.086DOI Listing
July 2014

Cellular contractility and extracellular matrix stiffness regulate matrix metalloproteinase activity in pancreatic cancer cells.

FASEB J 2014 Aug 1;28(8):3589-99. Epub 2014 May 1.

Department of Genetics, Development, and Cell Biology, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, USA

The pathogenesis of cancer is often driven by local invasion and metastasis. Recently, mechanical properties of the tumor microenvironment have been identified as potent regulators of invasion and metastasis, while matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are classically known as significant enhancers of cancer cell migration and invasion. Here we have been able to sensitively measure MMP activity changes in response to specific extracellular matrix (ECM) environments and cell contractility states. Cells of a pancreatic cancer cell line, Panc-1, up-regulate MMP activities between 3- and 10-fold with increased cell contractility. Conversely, they down-regulate MMP activities when contractility is blocked to levels seen with pan-MMP activity inhibitors. Similar, albeit attenuated, responses are seen in other pancreatic cancer cell lines, BxPC-3 and AsPC-1. In addition, MMP activity was modulated by substrate stiffness, collagen gel concentration, and the degree of collagen cross-linking, when cells were plated on collagen gels ranging from 0.5 to 5 mg/ml that span the physiological range of substrate stiffness (50-2000 Pa). Panc-1 cells showed enhanced MMP activity on stiffer substrates, whereas BxPC-3 and AsPC-1 cells showed diminished MMP activity. In addition, eliminating heparan sulfate proteoglycans using heparinase completely abrogated the mechanical induction of MMP activity. These results demonstrate the first functional link between MMP activity, contractility, and ECM stiffness and provide an explanation as to why stiffer environments result in enhanced cell migration and invasion.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1096/fj.13-245613DOI Listing
August 2014

Directed cell migration in multi-cue environments.

Integr Biol (Camb) 2013 Nov 3;5(11):1306-23. Epub 2013 Oct 3.

Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Iowa State University, USA.

Cell migration plays a critical role in development, angiogenesis, immune response, wound healing and cancer metastasis. During these processes, cells are often directed to migrate towards targets by sensing aligned fibers or gradients in concentration, mechanical properties or electric field. Often times, cells must integrate migrational information from several of these different cues. While the cell migration behavior, signal transduction and cytoskeleton dynamics elicited by individual directional cues has been largely determined, responses to multiple directional cues are much less understood. However, initial work has pointed to several interesting behaviors in multi-cue environments, including competition and cooperation between cues to determine the migrational responses of cells. Much of the work on multi-cue sensing has been driven by the recent development of approaches to systematically and simultaneously control directional cues in vitro coupled with analysis and modeling that quantitatively describe those responses. In this review we present an overview of multi-cue directed migration with an emphasis on how cues compete or cooperate. We outline how multi-cue responses such as cue dominance might change depending on other environmental inputs. Finally, the challenges associated with the design of the environments to control multiple cues and the analysis and modeling of cell migration in multi-cue environments as well as some interesting biological questions associated with migration in complex environments are discussed. Understanding multi-cue migrational responses is critical to the mechanistic description of physiology and pathology, but also to the design of engineered tissues, where cell migration must be orchestrated to form specific tissue structures.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/c3ib40137eDOI Listing
November 2013

Differences in adhesion and protrusion properties correlate with differences in migration speed under EGF stimulation.

BMC Biophys 2012 May 11;5. Epub 2012 May 11.

Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Iowa State University, Iowa, USA.

Background: Cell migration plays an essential role in many biological processes, such as cancer metastasis, wound healing and immune response. Cell migration is mediated through protrusion and focal adhesion (FA) assembly, maturation and disassembly. Epidermal growth factor (EGF) is known to enhance migration rate in many cell types; however it is not known how FA maturation, FA dynamics and protrusion dynamics are regulated during EGF-induced migration. Here we use total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) microscopy and image analysis to quantify FA properties and protrusion dynamics under different doses of EGF stimulation.

Results: EGF was found to broaden the distribution of cell migration rates, generating more fast and slow cells. Furthermore, groups based on EGF stimulation condition or cell migration speed were marked by characteristic signatures. When data was binned based on EGF stimulation conditions, FA intensity and FA number per cell showed the largest difference among stimulation groups. FA intensity decreased with increasing EGF concentration and FA number per cell was highest under intermediate stimulation conditions. No difference in protrusion behavior was observed. However, when data was binned based on cell migration speed, FA intensity and not FA number per cell showed the largest difference among groups. FA intensity was lower for fast migrating cells. Additionally, waves of protrusion tended to correlate with fast migrating cells.

Conclusions: Only a portion of the FA properties and protrusion dynamics that correlate with migration speed, correlate with EGF stimulation condition. Those that do not correlate with EGF stimulation condition constitute the most sensitive output for identifying why cells respond differently to EGF. The idea that EGF can both increase and decrease the migration speed of individual cells in a population has particular relevance to cancer metastasis where the microenvironment can select subpopulations based on some adhesion and protrusion characteristics, leading to a more invasive phenotype as would be seen if all cells responded like an "average" cell.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/2046-1682-5-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3414788PMC
May 2012

Mixed-surface, lipid-tethered quantum dots for targeting cells and tissues.

Colloids Surf B Biointerfaces 2012 Jun 21;94:27-35. Epub 2012 Jan 21.

Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Iowa State University, 2114 Sweeney Hall, Iowa 50011-2230, United States.

Quantum dots (QDs), with their variable luminescent properties, are rapidly transcending traditional labeling techniques in biological imaging and hold vast potential for biosensing applications. An obstacle in any biosensor development is targeted specificity. Here we report a facile procedure for creating QDs targeted to the cell membrane with the goal of cell-surface protease biosensing. This procedure generates water-soluble QDs with variable coverage of lipid functional groups. The resulting hydrophobicity is quantitatively controlled by the molar ratio of lipids per QD. Appropriate tuning of the hydrophobicity ensures solubility in common aqueous cell culture media, while providing affinity to the lipid bilayer of cell membranes. The reaction and exchange process was directly evaluated by measuring UV absorption spectra associated with dithiocarbamate formation. Cell membrane binding was assessed using flow cytometry and total internal reflection fluorescence imaging with live cells, and tissue affinity was measured using histochemical staining and fluorescence imaging of frozen tissue sections. Increases in cell and tissue binding were found to be regulated by both QD hydrophobicity and surface charge, underlying the importance of QD surface properties in the optimization of both luminescence and targeting capability.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.colsurfb.2012.01.015DOI Listing
June 2012

Myosin II activity regulates vinculin recruitment to focal adhesions through FAK-mediated paxillin phosphorylation.

J Cell Biol 2010 Mar;188(6):877-90

Cell Biology and Physiology Center, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.

Focal adhesions (FAs) are mechanosensitive adhesion and signaling complexes that grow and change composition in response to myosin II-mediated cytoskeletal tension in a process known as FA maturation. To understand tension-mediated FA maturation, we sought to identify proteins that are recruited to FAs in a myosin II-dependent manner and to examine the mechanism for their myosin II-sensitive FA association. We find that FA recruitment of both the cytoskeletal adapter protein vinculin and the tyrosine kinase FA kinase (FAK) are myosin II and extracellular matrix (ECM) stiffness dependent. Myosin II activity promotes FAK/Src-mediated phosphorylation of paxillin on tyrosines 31 and 118 and vinculin association with paxillin. We show that phosphomimic mutations of paxillin can specifically induce the recruitment of vinculin to adhesions independent of myosin II activity. These results reveal an important role for paxillin in adhesion mechanosensing via myosin II-mediated FAK phosphorylation of paxillin that promotes vinculin FA recruitment to reinforce the cytoskeletal ECM linkage and drive FA maturation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1083/jcb.200906012DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2845065PMC
March 2010

Mechanical integration of actin and adhesion dynamics in cell migration.

Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol 2010 ;26:315-33

Institute for Biophysical Dynamics, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.

Directed cell migration is a physical process that requires dramatic changes in cell shape and adhesion to the extracellular matrix. For efficient movement, these processes must be spatiotemporally coordinated. To a large degree, the morphological changes and physical forces that occur during migration are generated by a dynamic filamentous actin (F-actin) cytoskeleton. Adhesion is regulated by dynamic assemblies of structural and signaling proteins that couple the F-actin cytoskeleton to the extracellular matrix. Here, we review current knowledge of the dynamic organization of the F-actin cytoskeleton in cell migration and the regulation of focal adhesion assembly and disassembly with an emphasis on how mechanical and biochemical signaling between these two systems regulate the coordination of physical processes in cell migration.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev.cellbio.011209.122036DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4437624PMC
October 2010

Epidermal growth factor-induced contraction regulates paxillin phosphorylation to temporally separate traction generation from de-adhesion.

Mol Biol Cell 2009 Jul 29;20(13):3155-67. Epub 2009 Apr 29.

Department of Cell Biology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.

Directed cell migration is mediated by cycles of protrusion, adhesion, traction generation on the extracellular matrix and retraction. However, how the events after protrusion are timed, and what dictates their temporal order is completely unknown. We used acute epidermal growth factor (EGF) stimulation of epidermal keratinocytes to initiate the cell migration cycle to study the mechanism of the timing of adhesion, traction generation, and de-adhesion. Using microscopic and biochemical assays, we surprisingly found that at approximately 2 min after EGF stimulation protrusion, activation of myosin-II, traction generation, adhesion assembly, and paxillin phosphorylation occurred nearly simultaneously, followed by a 10-min delay during which paxillin became dephosphorylated before cell retraction. Inhibition of myosin-II blocked both the EGF-stimulated paxillin phosphorylation and cell retraction, and a paxillin phosphomimic blocked retraction. These results suggest that EGF-mediated activation of myosin-II acts as a mechanical signal to promote a cycle of paxillin phosphorylation/dephosphorylation that mediates a cycle of adhesion strengthening and weakening that delays cell retraction. Thus, we reveal for the first time a mechanism by which cells may temporally segregate protrusion, adhesion, and traction generation from retraction during EGF-stimulated cell migration.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1091/mbc.e09-03-0219DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2704165PMC
July 2009

Mechanisms of gradient sensing and chemotaxis: conserved pathways, diverse regulation.

Cell Cycle 2006 Jun 1;5(11):1130-4. Epub 2006 Jun 1.

Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695, USA.

Directed cell migration is critical for normal development, immune responses, and wound healing and plays a prominent role in tumor metastasis. In eukaryotes, cell orientation is biased by an external chemoattractant gradient through a spatial contrast in chemoattractant receptor-mediated signal transduction processes that differentially affect cytoskeletal dynamics at the cell front and rear. Mechanisms of spatial gradient sensing and chemotaxis have been studied extensively in the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum and mammalian leukocytes (neutrophils), which are similar in their remarkable sensitivity to shallow gradients and robustness of response over a broad range of chemoattractant concentration. Recently, we have quantitatively characterized a different gradient sensing system, that of platelet-derived growth factor-stimulated fibroblasts, an important component of dermal wound healing. The marked differences between this system and the others have led us to speculate on the diversity of gradient sensing mechanisms and their biological implications.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4161/cc.5.11.2770DOI Listing
June 2006

Quantitative elucidation of a distinct spatial gradient-sensing mechanism in fibroblasts.

J Cell Biol 2005 Dec 28;171(5):883-92. Epub 2005 Nov 28.

Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA.

Migration of eukaryotic cells toward a chemoattractant often relies on their ability to distinguish receptor-mediated signaling at different subcellular locations, a phenomenon known as spatial sensing. A prominent example that is seen during wound healing is fibroblast migration in platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) gradients. As in the well-characterized chemotactic cells Dictyostelium discoideum and neutrophils, signaling to the cytoskeleton via the phosphoinositide 3-kinase pathway in fibroblasts is spatially polarized by a PDGF gradient; however, the sensitivity of this process and how it is regulated are unknown. Through a quantitative analysis of mathematical models and live cell total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy experiments, we demonstrate that PDGF detection is governed by mechanisms that are fundamentally different from those in D. discoideum and neutrophils. Robust PDGF sensing requires steeper gradients and a much narrower range of absolute chemoattractant concentration, which is consistent with a simpler system lacking the feedback loops that yield signal amplification and adaptation in amoeboid cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1083/jcb.200509028DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2171296PMC
December 2005

Spatial analysis of 3' phosphoinositide signaling in living fibroblasts, III: influence of cell morphology and morphological Polarity.

Biophys J 2005 Aug 27;89(2):1420-30. Epub 2005 May 27.

Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, 27695, USA.

Activation of phosphoinositide (PI) 3-kinase is a required signaling pathway in fibroblast migration directed by platelet-derived growth factor. The pattern of 3' PI lipids in the plasma membrane, integrating local PI 3-kinase activity as well as 3' PI diffusion and turnover, influences the spatiotemporal regulation of the cytoskeleton. In fibroblasts stimulated uniformly with platelet-derived growth factor, visualized using total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy, we consistently observed localized regions with significantly higher or lower 3' PI levels than adjacent regions (hot and cold spots, respectively). A typical cell contained multiple hot spots, coinciding with apparent leading edge structures, and at most one cold spot at the rear. Using a framework for finite-element modeling with actual cell contact area geometries, we find that although the 3' PI pattern is affected by irregular contact area shape, cell morphology alone cannot explain the presence of hot or cold spots. Our results and analysis instead suggest that these regions reflect different local 3' PI dynamics, specifically through a combination of mechanisms: enhanced PI 3-kinase activity, reduced 3' PI turnover, and possibly slow/constrained 3' PI diffusion. The morphological polarity of the cell may thus bias 3' PI signaling to promote persistent migration in fibroblasts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1529/biophysj.105.061218DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1366626PMC
August 2005

On the cross-regulation of protein tyrosine phosphatases and receptor tyrosine kinases in intracellular signaling.

J Theor Biol 2004 Sep;230(1):119-32

Department of Chemical Engineering, 113 Riddick Lab., Box 7905, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7905, USA.

Intracellular signaling proteins are very often regulated by site-specific phosphorylation. For example, growth factor receptors in eukaryotic cells contain intrinsic tyrosine kinase activity and use inter- and intra-molecular interactions to recruit and orient potential protein substrates for phosphorylation. Equally important in determining the magnitude and kinetics of such a response is protein dephosphorylation, catalysed by phosphatase enzymes. A growing body of evidence indicates that certain protein tyrosine phosphatases (PTPs), like tyrosine kinases, are affected by intermolecular interactions that alter the specific activity or localization of their catalytic domains. Using a detailed kinetic modeling framework, we theoretically explore the regulation of PTPs through their association with receptor tyrosine kinases, as noted for the Src homology 2-domain-containing PTPs, SHP-1 and -2. Receptor-PTP binding, in turn, is expected to influence the phosphorylation pattern of those receptors and proteins they associate with, and we show how PTPs might serve to co- or counter-regulate parallel pathways in a signaling network.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jtbi.2004.04.023DOI Listing
September 2004

Spatial analysis of 3' phosphoinositide signaling in living fibroblasts: II. Parameter estimates for individual cells from experiments.

Biophys J 2004 Jan;86(1 Pt 1):599-608

Department of Chemical Engineering, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695, USA.

Fibroblast migration is directed by gradients of platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) during wound healing. As in other chemotactic systems, it has been shown recently that localized stimulation of intracellular phosphoinositide (PI) 3-kinase activity and production of 3' PI lipids in the plasma membrane are important events in the signaling of spatially biased motility processes. In turn, 3' PI localization depends on the effective diffusion coefficient, D, and turnover rate constant, k, of these lipids. Here we present a systematic and direct comparison of mathematical model calculations and experimental measurements to estimate the values of the effective 3' PI diffusion coefficient, D, turnover rate constant, k, and other parameters in individual fibroblasts stimulated uniformly with PDGF. In the context of our uniform stimulation model, the values of D and k in each cell were typically estimated within 10-20% or less, and the mean values across all of the cells analyzed were D = 0.37 +/- 0.25 microm2/s and k = 1.18 +/- 0.54 min(-1). In addition, we report that 3' PI turnover is not affected by PDGF receptor signaling in our cells, allowing us to focus our attention on the regulation of 3' PI production as this system is studied further.
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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1303829PMC
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0006-3495(04)74138-7DOI Listing
January 2004

Spatial analysis of 3' phosphoinositide signaling in living fibroblasts: I. Uniform stimulation model and bounds on dimensionless groups.

Biophys J 2004 Jan;86(1 Pt 1):589-98

Department of Chemical Engineering, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695, USA.

Fluorescent protein probes now permit spatial distributions of specific intracellular signaling molecules to be observed in real time. Mathematical models have been used to simulate molecular gradients and other spatial patterns within cells, and the output of such models may be compared directly with experiments if the binding of the fluorescent probe and the physics of the imaging technique are each incorporated. Here we present a comprehensive model describing the dynamics of 3' phosphoinositides (PIs), lipid second messengers produced in the plasma membrane in response to stimulation of the PI 3-kinase signaling pathway, as monitored in the cell-substratum contact area using total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy. With this technique it was previously shown that uniform stimulation of fibroblasts with platelet-derived growth factor elicits the formation of axisymmetric 3' PI gradients, which we now characterize in the context of our model. We find that upper and lower bounds on the relevant dimensionless model parameter values for an individual cell can be calculated from four well-defined fluorescence measurements. Based on our analysis, we expect that the key dimensionless group, the ratio of 3' PI turnover and diffusion rates, can be estimated within approximately 20% or less.
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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1303828PMC
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0006-3495(04)74137-5DOI Listing
January 2004

Kinetic analysis of platelet-derived growth factor receptor/phosphoinositide 3-kinase/Akt signaling in fibroblasts.

J Biol Chem 2003 Sep 18;278(39):37064-72. Epub 2003 Jul 18.

Department of Chemical Engineering, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695-7905, USA.

Isoforms of the serine-threonine kinase Akt coordinate multiple cell survival pathways in response to stimuli such as platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF). Activation of Akt is a multistep process, which relies on the production of 3'-phosphorylated phosphoinositide (PI) lipids by PI 3-kinases. To quantitatively assess the kinetics of PDGF receptor/PI 3-kinase/Akt signaling in fibroblasts, a systematic study of this pathway was performed, and a mechanistic mathematical model that describes its operation was formulated. We find that PDGF receptor phosphorylation exhibits positive cooperativity with respect to PDGF concentration, and its kinetics are quantitatively consistent with a mechanism in which receptor dimerization is initially mediated by the association of two 1:1 PDGF/PDGF receptor complexes. Receptor phosphorylation is transient at high concentrations of PDGF, consistent with the loss of activated receptors upon endocytosis. By comparison, Akt activation responds to lower PDGF concentrations and exhibits more sustained kinetics. Further analysis and modeling suggest that the pathway is saturated at the level of PI 3-kinase activation, and that the p110alpha catalytic subunit of PI 3-kinase contributes most to PDGF-stimulated 3'-PI production. Thus, at high concentrations of PDGF the kinetics of 3'-PI production are limited by the turnover rate of these lipids, while the Akt response is additionally influenced by the rate of Akt deactivation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/jbc.M304968200DOI Listing
September 2003

Fermentation of cottonseed and other feedstuffs in cattle rumen fluid.

J Agric Food Chem 2002 Apr;50(8):2267-73

Department of Chemical Engineering, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50011, USA.

Bovine rumen fluid was fermented anaerobically over 48 h with cottonseed, corn, alfalfa, or a mixture of these substrates in anaerobic mineral buffer. Samples taken at different incubation times were derivatized with n-butanol and subjected to gas chromatography and mass spectroscopy. No unusual fermentation end-products from the cottonseed substrate were detected. Cottonseed supported rumen fermentation at levels comparable to those of the other substrates. Major components were usually found in the decreasing order of acetate, propionate, butyrate, and valerate, although acetate and propionate concentrations decreased late in the alfalfa and mixed-feed fermentations, eventually allowing butyrate concentrations to exceed those of propionate. As expected, lactate was produced in high concentrations when corn was fermented. The minor components 2-methylpropionate, 2- and 3-methylbutyrate, phenylacetate, phenylpropionate, and caproate also accumulated, with their relative concentrations varying with the substrate. Succinate was produced in substantial amounts only when corn and alfalfa were fermented; it did not accumulate when cottonseed was the substrate. Samples containing cottonseed were derivatized and subjected to reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography, revealing that gossypol concentrations did not change during fermentation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/jf010783nDOI Listing
April 2002
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