Mechanics and Mechanotransduction of Adherent Cells: A Compendium of Atomic Force Microscopy Studies

Title: Mechanics and Mechanotransduction of Adherent Cells: A Compendium of Atomic Force Microscopy Studies
Authors: Haase, Kristina M.
Date: 2014
Abstract: Mechanical cues have been recognized to be critically important in the regulation of cells. A myriad of cellular processes including differentiation, proliferation, and gene expression are all affected by physical forces from the extra- and intra-cellular microenvironments. Despite recent advances in nano-technologies, many questions still surround how cells sense and respond to forces. Through a series of studies, we demonstrate how both the structure and inherent mechanical properties of the cell affect their response to mechanical cues. We first develop a methodology to mechanically manipulate cells while simultaneously characterizing their deformations. Using combined atomic force and confocal microscopy techniques and through systematic examination we demonstrate the role of the cytoskeleton and nucleus in the deformability and shape change of epithelial cells. Mechanical properties have been used in recent years to identify diseased states, including cancer. With this in mind, we used HeLa cells as a model and characterized significant deformability of their plasma membrane and underlying cortex. Importantly, we demonstrate and characterize their ability to recover from large shape changes, which we also observed in other epithelial cells. Shape recovery is shown to be rapid and reliant upon the actin cytoskeleton and intracellular fluid flow. Although the nucleus does not contribute significantly to the deformation and recovery of HeLa cells, the importance of nuclear mechanics cannot be forgone. In vitro studies have shown that mechanical forces transmitted through the cell’s cytoskeleton critically affect nuclear mechanics and gene transcription processes. Many others have used simple models and isolated nuclei in an attempt to characterize nuclear properties. Thus, in a subsequent study, we examine the nucleus within intact cells. Nuclear shape change, in response to force, is shown to be complex and cannot be well-characterized by isotropic mechanical properties. Characterization of the mechanics of the cell, as demonstrated through our findings, is crucial in the field of biological physics. The aforementioned studies, written as scientific articles, are presented in the body of this thesis (Chapters 2-5). A review article that focuses on mechanotransduction and relevant examples using AFM as a tool for its examination acts as an introductory chapter.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -