Author(s): Tee SY, Fu J, Chen CS, Janmey PA
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Abstract Cells from many different tissues sense the stiffness and spatial patterning of their microenvironment to modulate their shape and cortical stiffness. It is currently unknown how substrate stiffness, cell shape, and cell stiffness modulate or interact with one another. Here, we use microcontact printing and microfabricated arrays of elastomeric posts to independently and simultaneously control cell shape and substrate stiffness. Our experiments show that cell cortical stiffness increases as a function of both substrate stiffness and spread area. For soft substrates, the influence of substrate stiffness on cell cortical stiffness is more prominent than that of cell shape, since increasing adherent area does not lead to cell stiffening. On the other hand, for cells constrained to a small area, cell shape effects are more dominant than substrate stiffness, since increasing substrate stiffness no longer affects cell stiffness. These results suggest that cell size and substrate stiffness can interact in a complex fashion to either enhance or antagonize each other's effect on cell morphology and mechanics. Copyright © 2011 Biophysical Society. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Biophys J
and referenced in Journal of Biosensors & Bioelectronics