Universiteit Leiden

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Doris Heinrich Lab (Biophysics of Cellular Dynamics)

3D Cell Environments

Living cells on topographically-controlled substrates: Understanding Cell Motility in a Quasi-3D Environment

Project description

In their natural habitat, cells move in 3D environments. Cell properties are known to be notably different depending on the surrounding structure, especially for motile cells. Neutrophils, for example, crawl during an inflammatory response with remarkable efficiency in a three dimensional environment to reach the inflammatory point and thus protect the host organism.

Conventionally, cell motility is investigated on flat surfaces, where the cell properties are known to be notably affected. To get closer to the in-vivo conditions, we investigate the migration of motile cells such as the highly motile model organism Dictyostelium discoideum (DD) in topographically-controlled 3D environments.

As model environments, we design well-defined microstructures. With these we can reach our aim to quantify and understand cell motility in quasi-3D environments. Our topographical environments are fabricated from transparent silicon polymer PDMS, which can be casted into a master to yield nearly any possible structure. The master itself is obtained by photolithography. We use surfaces with pillars of well-controlled structure and spacing, allowing to quantify their influence on the motility of living cells.
After image analysis, we retrieve the trajectories of single cells on the micropillar array. Further data analysis focuses on the motion characteristics of the cells and their dependence on the geometrical properties of the micropillar arrays, defining boundary conditions for the motility of living cells.

Publications within this project

  • D. Arcizet, S. Capito, M. Gorelashvili, C. Leonhard, M. Vollmer, S. Youssef, S. Rappl, and D. Heinrich, Contact-controlled amoeboid motility induces dynamic trapping in 3d-microstructured surfaces, Soft Matter 8(5), 1473 (2012)
  • E. Sackmann, F. Keber and D. Heinrich, Physics of Cellular Movements, Annu. Rev. Condens. Matter Phys. 1:257-276 (2010)
  • C. Pelzl, D. Arcizet, G. Pointek, J. Schlegel, and D. Heinrich, Axonal Guidance by Surface Microstructuring for the Investigation of Vesicle Transport, ChemPhysChem 10, 2884 (2009)
  • D. Heinrich, S. Youssef, B. Schroth-Diez, U. Engel, D. Aydin, J. Bluemmel, J. Spatz and G. Gerisch, Actin-Cytoskeleton Dynamics in Non-Monotonic Cell Spreading, Cell Adhesion & Migration 2(2), 58-68 (2008)
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