Dr. Russell is a Vision Scientist in the Department of Surgical and Radiological Sciences at the University of California, Davis. His research interests include glaucoma, aqueous humor dynamics, cataract and the influence of biophysical cues on ocular cells. He has studied the trabecular meshwork extensively and has human meshwork cells to test experimental drugs in vitro.
Vision of a near future: Bridging the human health-environment divide. Toward an integrated strategy to understand mechanisms across species for chemical safety assessment
Toxicol In Vitro. 2020 Feb;62:104692. doi: 10.1016/j.tiv.2019.104692. Epub 2019 Oct 25.
There is a growing recognition that application of mechanistic approaches to understand cross-species shared molecular targets and pathway conservation in the context of hazard characterization, provide significant opportunities in risk assessment (RA) for both human health and environmental safety. Specifically, it has been recognized that a more comprehensive and reliable understanding of similarities and differences in biological pathways across a variety of species will better enable cross-species extrapolation of potential adverse toxicological effects. Ultimately, this would also advance the generation and use of mechanistic data for both human health and environmental RA. A workshop brought together representatives from industry, academia and government to discuss how to improve the use of existing data, and to generate new NAMs data to derive better mechanistic understanding between humans and environmentally-relevant species, ultimately resulting in holistic chemical safety decisions. Thanks to a thorough dialogue among all participants, key challenges, current gaps and research needs were identified, and potential solutions proposed. This discussion highlighted the common objective to progress toward more predictive, mechanistically based, data-driven and animal-free chemical safety assessments. Overall, the participants recognized that there is no single approach which would provide all the answers for bridging the gap between mechanism-based human health and environmental RA, but acknowledged we now have the incentive, tools and data availability to address this concept, maximizing the potential for improvements in both human health and environmental RA.
Transforming Growth Factor Beta 3 Modifies Mechanics and Composition of Extracellular Matrix Deposited by Human Trabecular Meshwork Cells
ACS Biomater Sci Eng. 2015 Feb 9;1(2):110-118. doi: 10.1021/ab500060r. Epub 2015 Jan 8.
Pseudoexfoliation syndrome is a systemic disorder of the extracellular matrix (ECM) with ocular manifestations in the form of chronic open angle glaucoma. Elevated levels of TGFβ3 in the aqueous humor of individuals with pseudoexfoliation glaucoma (PEX) have been reported. The influence of TGFβ3 on the biochemical composition and biomechanics of ECM of human trabecular meshwork (HTM) cells was investigated. HTM cells from eye bank donor eyes were isolated, plated on aminosilane functionalized glass substrates and cultured in the presence or absence of 1 ng/mL TGFβ3 for 4 weeks. After incubation, samples were decellularized and decellularization was verified by immunostaining. The mechanics of the remaining ECM that was deposited by the treated or the control cells were measured by atomic force microscopy (AFM). Imaged by AFM, the surface features of the ECM from both sets of samples had a similar roughness/topography (as determined by RMS values) suggesting surface features of the ECM were similar in both cases; however, the ECM from the HTM cells treated with TGFβ3 was between 3- and 5-fold stiffer than that produced by the control HTM cells. Proteins present in the ECM were solubilized and analyzed using liquid chromatography tandem mass spectroscopy (LC-MS/MS). Data indicate that multiple proteins previously reported to be altered in glaucoma were changed in the ECM as a result of the presence of TGFβ3, including inhibitors of the BMP and Wnt signaling pathways. Gremlin1and 4, SERPINE1 and 2, periostin, secreted frizzled related protein (SFRP) 1 and 4, and ANGPTL4 were among those proteins that were overexpressed in the ECM after TGFβ3 treatment.
Molecular basis of chromatin remodeling by Rhp26, a yeast CSB ortholog
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019 Mar 26;116(13):6120-6129. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1818163116. Epub 2019 Mar 13.
CSB/ERCC6 belongs to an orphan subfamily of SWI2/SNF2-related chromatin remodelers and plays crucial roles in gene expression, DNA damage repair, and the maintenance of genome integrity. The molecular basis of chromatin remodeling by Cockayne syndrome B protein (CSB) is not well understood. Here we investigate the molecular mechanism of chromatin remodeling by Rhp26, a Schizosaccharomyces pombe CSB ortholog. The molecular basis of chromatin remodeling and nucleosomal epitope recognition by Rhp26 is distinct from that of canonical chromatin remodelers, such as imitation switch protein (ISWI). We reveal that the remodeling activities are bidirectionally regulated by CSB-specific motifs: the N-terminal leucine-latch motif and the C-terminal coupling motif. Rhp26 remodeling activities depend mainly on H4 tails and to a lesser extent on H3 tails, but not on H2A and H2B tails. Rhp26 promotes the disruption of histone cores and the release of free DNA. Finally, we dissected the distinct contributions of two Rhp26 C-terminal regions to chromatin remodeling and DNA damage repair.
Consensus recommendations for trabecular meshwork cell isolation, characterization and culture
Exp Eye Res. 2018 Jun;171:164-173. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2018.03.001. Epub 2018 Mar 9.
Cultured trabecular meshwork (TM) cells are a valuable model system to study the cellular mechanisms involved in the regulation of conventional outflow resistance and thus intraocular pressure; and their dysfunction resulting in ocular hypertension. In this review, we describe the standard procedures used for the isolation of TM cells from several animal species including humans, and the methods used to validate their identity. Having a set of standard practices for TM cells will increase the scientific rigor when used as a model, and enable other researchers to replicate and build upon previous findings.
Biomechanical Rigidity and Quantitative Proteomics Analysis of Segmental Regions of the Trabecular Meshwork at Physiologic and Elevated Pressures
Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2018 Jan 1;59(1):246-259. doi: 10.1167/iovs.17-22759.
PURPOSE: The extracellular matrix (ECM) of the trabecular meshwork (TM) modulates resistance to aqueous humor outflow, thereby regulating IOP. Glaucoma, a leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide, is associated with changes in the ECM of the TM. The elastic modulus of glaucomatous TM is larger than age-matched normal TM; however, the biomechanical properties of segmental low (LF) and high flow (HF) TM regions and their response to elevated pressure, are unknown.
METHODS: We perfused human anterior segments at two pressures using an ex vivo organ culture system. After extraction, we measured the elastic modulus of HF and LF TM regions by atomic force microscopy and quantitated protein differences by proteomics analyses.
RESULTS: The elastic modulus of LF regions was 2.3-fold larger than HF regions at physiological (1×) pressure, and 7.4-fold or 3.5-fold larger than HF regions at elevated (2×) pressure after 24 or 72 hours, respectively. Using quantitative proteomics, comparisons were made between HF and LF regions at 1× or 2× pressure. Significant ECM protein differences were observed between LF and HF regions perfused at 2×, and between HF regions at 1× compared to 2× pressures. Decorin, TGF-β-induced protein, keratocan, lumican, dermatopontin, and thrombospondin 4 were common differential candidates in both comparisons.
CONCLUSIONS: These data show changes in biomechanical properties of segmental regions within the TM in response to elevated pressure, and levels of specific ECM proteins. Further studies are needed to determine whether these ECM proteins are specifically involved in outflow resistance and IOP homeostasis.
The role of hepatocyte growth factor in corneal wound healing
Exp Eye Res. 2018 Jan;166:49-55. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2017.10.006. Epub 2017 Oct 10.
Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) is a glycoprotein produced by mesenchymal cells and operates as a key molecule for tissue generation and renewal. During corneal injury, HGF is primarily secreted by stromal fibroblasts and promotes epithelial wound healing in a paracrine manner. While this mesenchymal-epithelial interaction is well characterized in various organs and the cornea, the role of HGF in corneal stromal and endothelial wound healing is understudied. In addition, HGF has been shown to play an anti-fibrotic role by inhibiting myofibroblast generation and subsequent production of a disorganized extracellular matrix and tissue fibrosis. Therefore, HGF represents a potential therapeutic tool in numerous organs in which myofibroblasts are responsible for tissue scarring. Corneal fibrosis can be a devastating sequela of injury and can result in corneal opacification and retrocorneal membrane formation leading to severe vision loss. In this article, we concisely review the available literature regarding the role of HGF in corneal wound healing. We highlight the influence of HGF on cellular behaviors in each corneal layer. Additionally, we suggest the possibility that HGF may represent a therapeutic tool for interrupting dysregulated corneal repair processes to improve patient outcomes.
Dexamethasone Stiffens Trabecular Meshwork, Trabecular Meshwork Cells, and Matrix
Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2015 Jul;56(8):4447-59. doi: 10.1167/iovs.15-16739.
PURPOSE: Treatment with corticosteroids can result in ocular hypertension and may lead to the development of steroid-induced glaucoma. The extent to which biomechanical changes in trabecular meshwork (TM) cells and extracellular matrix (ECM) contribute toward this dysfunction is poorly understood.
METHODS: Primary human TM (HTM) cells were cultured for either 3 days or 4 weeks in the presence or absence of dexamethasone (DEX), and cell mechanics, matrix mechanics and proteomics were determined, respectively. Adult rabbits were treated topically with either 0.1% DEX or vehicle over 3 weeks, and mechanics of the TM were determined.
RESULTS: Treatment with DEX for 3 days resulted in a 2-fold increase in HTM cell stiffness, and this correlated with activation of extracellular signal-related kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) and overexpression of α-smooth muscle actin (αSMA). Further, the matrix deposited by HTM cells chronically treated with DEX is approximately 4-fold stiffer, more organized, and has elevated expression of matrix proteins commonly implicated in glaucoma (decorin, myocilin, fibrillin, secreted frizzle-related protein [SFRP1], matrix-gla). Also, DEX treatment resulted in a 3.5-fold increase in stiffness of the rabbit TM.
DISCUSSION: This integrated approach clearly demonstrates that DEX treatment increases TM cell stiffness concurrent with elevated αSMA expression and activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway, stiffens the ECM in vitro along with upregulation of Wnt antagonists and fibrotic markers embedded in a more organized matrix, and increases the stiffness of TM tissues in vivo. These results demonstrate glucocorticoid treatment can initiate the biophysical alteration associated with increased resistance to aqueous humor outflow and the resultant increase in IOP.
The intrinsic stiffness of human trabecular meshwork cells increases with senescence
Oncotarget. 2015 Jun 20;6(17):15362-74. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.3798.
Dysfunction of the human trabecular meshwork (HTM) plays a central role in the age-associated disease glaucoma, a leading cause of irreversible blindness. The etiology remains poorly understood but cellular senescence, increased stiffness of the tissue, and the expression of Wnt antagonists such as secreted frizzled related protein-1 (SFRP1) have been implicated. However, it is not known if senescence is causally linked to either stiffness or SFRP1 expression. In this study, we utilized in vitro HTM senescence to determine the effect on cellular stiffening and SFRP1 expression. Stiffness of cultured cells was measured using atomic force microscopy and the morphology of the cytoskeleton was determined using immunofluorescent analysis. SFRP1 expression was measured using qPCR and immunofluorescent analysis. Senescent cell stiffness increased 1.88±0.14 or 2.57±0.14 fold in the presence or absence of serum, respectively. This was accompanied by increased vimentin expression, stress fiber formation, and SFRP1 expression. In aggregate, these data demonstrate that senescence may be a causal factor in HTM stiffening and elevated SFRP1 expression, and contribute towards disease progression. These findings provide insight into the etiology of glaucoma and, more broadly, suggest a causal link between senescence and altered tissue biomechanics in aging-associated diseases.
Genetic Interaction Landscape Reveals Critical Requirements for Schizosaccharomyces pombe Brc1 in DNA Damage Response Mutants
G3 (Bethesda). 2015 Mar 19;5(5):953-62. doi: 10.1534/g3.115.017251.
Brc1, which was first identified as a high-copy, allele-specific suppressor of a mutation impairing the Smc5-Smc6 holocomplex in Schizosaccharomyces pombe, protects genome integrity during normal DNA replication and when cells are exposed to toxic compounds that stall or collapse replication forks. The C-terminal tandem BRCT (BRCA1 C-terminus) domain of fission yeast Brc1 docks with phosphorylated histone H2A (γH2A)-marked chromatin formed by ATR/Rad3 checkpoint kinase at arrested and damaged replication forks; however, how Brc1 functions in relation to other genome protection modules remains unclear. Here, an epistatic mini-array profile reveals critical requirements for Brc1 in mutants that are defective in multiple DNA damage response pathways, including checkpoint signaling by Rad3-Rad26/ATR-ATRIP kinase, DNA repair by Smc5-Smc6 holocomplex, replication fork stabilization by Mrc1/claspin and Swi1-Swi3/Timeless-Tipin, and control of ubiquitin-regulated proteolysis by the COP9 signalosome (CSN). Exogenous genotoxins enhance these negative genetic interactions. Rad52 and RPA foci are increased in CSN-defective cells, and loss of γH2A increases genotoxin sensitivity, indicating a critical role for the γH2A-Brc1 module in stabilizing replication forks in CSN-defective cells. A negative genetic interaction with the Nse6 subunit of Smc5-Smc6 holocomplex indicates that the DNA repair functions of Brc1 and Smc5-Smc6 holocomplex are at least partially independent. Rtt107, the Brc1 homolog in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, has a very different pattern of genetic interactions, indicating evolutionary divergence of functions and DNA damage responses.
Thermally labile components of aqueous humor potently induce osteogenic potential in adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells
Exp Eye Res. 2015 Jun;135:127-33. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2015.02.018. Epub 2015 Feb 24.
Adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells (ASCs) hold promise for use in cell-based therapies. Their intrinsic anti-inflammatory properties are potentially useful for treatments of inflammatory conditions such as uveitis, while their ability to differentiate along multiple cell lineages suggests use in regenerating damaged or degenerated tissue. However, how ASCs will respond to the intraocular environment is poorly studied. We have recently reported that aqueous humor (AH), the fluid that nourishes the anterior segment of the eye, potently increases alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity of ASCs, indicating osteogenic differentiation. Here, we expand on our previous findings to better define the nature of this response. To this end, we cultured ASCs in the presence of 0, 5, 10, and 20% AH and assayed them for ALP activity. We found ALP activity correlates with increasing AH concentrations from 5 to 20%, and that longer treatments result in increased ALP activity. By using serum free media and pretreating AH with dextran-coated charcoal, we found that serum and charcoal-adsorbable AH components augment but are not required for this response. Further, by heat-treating the AH, we established that thermally labile components are required for the osteogenic response. Finally, we showed myocilin, a protein present in AH, could induce ALP activity in ASCs. However, this was to a lesser extent than untreated 5% AH, and myocilin could only partially rescue the effect after heat treatment, documenting there were additional thermally labile constituents of AH involved in the osteogenic response. Our work adds to the understanding of the induction of ALP in ASCs following exposure to AH, providing important insight in how ASCs will be influenced by the ocular environment. In conclusion, increased osteogenic potential upon exposure to AH represents a potential challenge to developing ASC cell-based therapies directed at the eye.
Wnt inhibition induces persistent increases in intrinsic stiffness of human trabecular meshwork cells
Exp Eye Res. 2015 Mar;132:174-8. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2015.01.025. Epub 2015 Jan 30.
Wnt antagonism has been linked to glaucoma and intraocular pressure regulation, as has increased stiffness of human trabecular meshwork (HTM) tissue. We have shown culturing HTM cells on substrates that mimic the elevated stiffness of glaucomatous tissue leads to elevated expression of the Wnt antagonist secreted frizzled related protein 1 (SFRP1), suggesting a linkage between SFRP1 and HTM mechanobiology. In this study, we document biomechanical consequences of Wnt antagonism on HTM cells. Cells were treated with the Wnt antagonists (SFRP1, KY02111, and LGK-974) for 8 days and allowed to recover for 4 days. After recovery, intrinsic cell stiffness and activation of the Wnt pathway via β-catenin staining and blotting were assayed. Basal cell stiffness values were 3.71 ± 0.37, 4.33 ± 3.07, and 3.07 ± kPa (median ± S.D.) for cells derived from 3 donors. Cell stiffness increased after 0.25 μg/mL (4.32 ± 5.12, 8.86 ± 8.51, 4.84 ± 3.15 kPa) and 0.5 μg/mL (16.75 ± 5.59, 13.18 ± 7.99, and 8.54 ± 5.77 kPa) SFRP1 treatment. Stiffening was observed after 10 μM KY02111 (10.72 ± 5.63 and 6.57 ± 5.53 kPa) as well as LGK-974 (9.60 ± 7.41 and 11.40 ± 9.24 kPa) treatment compared with controls (3.79 ± 1.01 and 5.16 ± 2.14 kPa). Additionally, Wnt inhibition resulted in decreased β-catenin staining and increased phosphorylation at threonine 41 after recovery. In conclusion, this work demonstrates a causal relationship between Wnt inhibition and cell stiffening. Additionally, these findings suggest transient Wnt inhibition resulted in durable modulation of the mechanical phenotype of HTM cells. When placed in context with previous results, these findings provide a causal link between Wnt antagonism and cell stiffness and suggest a feedback loop contributing to glaucoma progression.
Regulation of the Rhp26ERCC6/CSB chromatin remodeler by a novel conserved leucine latch motif
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Dec 30;111(52):18566-71. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1420227112. Epub 2014 Dec 15.
CSB/ERCC6 (Cockayne syndrome B protein/excision repair cross-complementation group 6), a member of a subfamily of SWI2/SNF2 (SWItch/sucrose nonfermentable)-related chromatin remodelers, plays crucial roles in gene expression and the maintenance of genome integrity. Here, we report the mechanism of the autoregulation of Rhp26, which is the homolog of CSB/ERCC6 in Schizosaccharomyces pombe. We identified a novel conserved protein motif, termed the "leucine latch," at the N terminus of Rhp26. The leucine latch motif mediates the autoinhibition of the ATPase and chromatin-remodeling activities of Rhp26 via its interaction with the core ATPase domain. Moreover, we found that the C terminus of the protein counteracts this autoinhibition and that both the N- and C-terminal regions of Rhp26 are needed for its proper function in DNA repair in vivo. The presence of the leucine latch motif in organisms ranging from yeast to humans suggests a conserved mechanism for the autoregulation of CSB/ERCC6 despite the otherwise highly divergent nature of the N- and C-terminal regions.
Biomimetic stochastic topography and electric fields synergistically enhance directional migration of corneal epithelial cells in a MMP-3-dependent manner
Acta Biomater. 2015 Jan;12:102-112. doi: 10.1016/j.actbio.2014.10.007. Epub 2014 Oct 13.
Directed migration of corneal epithelial cells (CECs) is critical for maintenance of corneal homeostasis as well as wound healing. Soluble cytoactive factors and the intrinsic chemical attributes of the underlying extracellular matrix (ECM) participate in stimulating and directing migration. The central importance of the intrinsic biophysical attributes of the microenvironment of the cell in modulating an array of fundamental epithelial behaviors including migration has been widely documented. Among the best measures of these attributes are the intrinsic topography and stiffness of the ECM and electric fields (EFs). How cells integrate these multiple simultaneous inputs is not well understood. Here, we present a method that combines the use of (i) topographically patterned substrates (mean pore diameter 800nm) possessing features that approximate those found in the native corneal basement membrane; and (ii) EFs (0-150mVmm(-1)) mimicking those at corneal epithelial wounds that the cells experience in vivo. We found that topographic cues and EFs synergistically regulated directional migration of human CECs and that this was associated with upregulation of matrix metalloproteinase-3 (MMP3). MMP3 expression and activity were significantly elevated with 150mVmm(-1) applied-EF while MMP2/9 remained unaltered. MMP3 expression was elevated in cells cultured on patterned surfaces against planar surfaces. The highest single-cell migration rate was observed with 150mVmm(-1) applied EF on patterned and planar surfaces. When cultured as a confluent sheet, EFs induced collective cell migration on stochastically patterned surfaces compared with dissociated single-cell migration on planar surfaces. These results suggest significant interaction of biophysical cues in regulating cell behaviors and will help define design parameters for corneal prosthetics and help to better understand corneal wound healing.
Involvement of YAP, TAZ and HSP90 in contact guidance and intercellular junction formation in corneal epithelial cells
PLoS One. 2014 Oct 7;9(10):e109811. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0109811. eCollection 2014.
The extracellular environment possesses a rich milieu of biophysical and biochemical signaling cues that are simultaneously integrated by cells and influence cellular phenotype. Yes-associated protein (YAP) and transcriptional co-activator with PDZ-binding motif (WWTR1; TAZ), two important signaling molecules of the Hippo pathway, have been recently implicated as nuclear relays of cytoskeletal changes mediated by substratum rigidity and topography. These proteins intersect with other important intracellular signaling pathways (e.g. Wnt and TGFβ). In the cornea, epithelial cells adhere to the stroma through a 3-dimensional topography-rich basement membrane, with features in the nano-submicron size-scale that are capable of profoundly modulating a wide range of fundamental cell behaviors. The influences of substratum-topography, YAP/TAZ knockdown, and HSP90 inhibition on cell morphology, YAP/TAZ localization, and the expression of TGFβ2 and CTGF, were investigated. The results demonstrate (a) that knockdown of TAZ enhances contact guidance in a YAP dependent manner, (b) that CTGF is predominantly regulated by YAP and not TAZ, and (c) that TGFβ2 is regulated by both YAP and TAZ in these cells. Additionally, inhibition of HSP90 resulted in nuclear localization and subsequent transcriptional-activation of YAP, formation of cell-cell junctions and co-localization of E-cadherin and β-catenin at adherens junctions. Results presented in this study reflect the complexities underlying the molecular relationships between the cytoskeleton, growth factors, heat shock proteins, and co-activators of transcription that impact mechanotransduction. The data reveal the importance of YAP/TAZ on the cell behaviors, and gene and protein expression.
The formation of cortical actin arrays in human trabecular meshwork cells in response to cytoskeletal disruption
Exp Cell Res. 2014 Oct 15;328(1):164-171. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2014.06.014. Epub 2014 Jun 30.
The cytoskeleton of human trabecular meshwork (HTM) cells is known to be altered in glaucoma and has been hypothesized to reduce outflow facility through contracting the HTM tissue. Latrunculin B (Lat-B) and Rho-associated protein kinase (ROCK) inhibitors disrupt the actin cytoskeleton and are in clinical trials as glaucoma therapeutics. We have previously reported a transient increase in HTM cell stiffness peaking at 90 min after Lat-B treatment with a return to pretreatment values after 270 min. We hypothesize that changes in actin morphology correlate with alterations in cell stiffness induced by Lat-B but this is not a general consequence of other cytoskeletal disrupting agents such as Rho kinase inhibitors. We treated HTM cells with 2 µM Lat-B or 100 µM Y-27632 and allowed the cells to recover for 30-270 min. While examining actin morphology in Lat-B treated cells, we observed striking cortical actin arrays (CAAs). The percentage of CAA positive cells (CPCs) was time dependent and exceeded 30% at 90 min and decreased after 270 min. Y-27632 treated cells exhibited few CAAs and no changes in cell stiffness. Together, these data suggest that the increase in cell stiffness after Lat-B treatment is correlated with CAAs.
Automated AFM force curve analysis for determining elastic modulus of biomaterials and biological samples
J Mech Behav Biomed Mater. 2014 Sep;37:209-18. doi: 10.1016/j.jmbbm.2014.05.027. Epub 2014 Jun 5.
The analysis of atomic force microscopy (AFM) force data requires the selection of a contact point (CP) and is often time consuming and subjective due to influence from intermolecular forces and low signal-to-noise ratios (SNR). In this report, we present an automated algorithm for the selection of CPs in AFM force data and the evaluation of elastic moduli. We propose that CP may be algorithmically easier to detect by identifying a linear elastic indentation region of data (high SNR) rather than the contact point itself (low SNR). Utilizing Hertzian mechanics, the data are fitted for the CP. We first detail the algorithm and then evaluate it on sample polymeric and biological materials. As a demonstration of automation, 64 × 64 force maps were analyzed to yield spatially varying topographical and mechanical information of cells. Finally, we compared manually selected CPs to automatically identified CPs and demonstrated that our automated approach is both accurate (< 10nm difference between manual and automatic) and precise for non-interacting polymeric materials. Our data show that the algorithm is useful for analysis of both biomaterials and biological samples.
A cell culture substrate with biologically relevant size-scale topography and compliance of the basement membrane
Langmuir. 2014 Mar 4;30(8):2101-8. doi: 10.1021/la403590v. Epub 2014 Feb 21.
A growing body of literature broadly documents that a wide array of fundamental cell behaviors are modulated by the physical attributes of the cellular microenvironment, yet in vitro assays are typically carried out using tissue culture plastic or glass substrates that lack the 3-dimensional topography present in vivo and have stiffness values that far exceed that of cellular and stromal microenvironments. This work presents a method for the fabrication of thin hydrogel films that can replicate arbitrary topographies with a resolution of 400 nm that possess an elastic modulus of approximately 250 kPa. Material characterization including swelling behavior and mechanics were performed and reported. Cells cultured on these surfaces patterned with anisotropic ridges and grooves react to the biophysical cues present and show an alignment response.
Human trabecular meshwork cells exhibit several characteristics of, but are distinct from, adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells
J Ocul Pharmacol Ther. 2014 Mar-Apr;30(2-3):254-66. doi: 10.1089/jop.2013.0175. Epub 2014 Jan 23.
PURPOSE: To support the growing promise of regenerative medicine in glaucoma, we characterized the similarities and differences between human trabecular meshwork (HTM) cells and human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs).
METHODS: HTM cells and hMSCs were phenotypically characterized by flow cytometry. Using quantitative polymerase chain reaction, the expression of myoc, angptl7, sox2, pou5f1, and notch1 was determined in both cell types with and without dexamethasone (Dex). Immunosuppressive behavior of HTM cells and hMSCs was determined using T cells activated with phytohemagglutinin. T-cell proliferation was determined using BrdU incorporation and flow cytometry. Multipotency of HTM cells and hMSCs was determined using adipogenic and osteogenic differentiation media as well as aqueous humor (AH). Alpha-smooth muscle actin (αSMA) expression was determined in HTM cells, hMSCs, and HTM tissue.
RESULTS: Phenotypically, HTM and hMSCs expressed CD73, CD90, CD105, and CD146 but not CD31, CD34, and CD45 and similar sox2, pou5f1, and notch1 expression. Both cell types suppressed T-cell proliferation. However, HTM cells, but not hMSCs, upregulated myoc and angptl7 in response to Dex. Additionally, HTM cells did not differentiate into adipocytes or osteocytes. Culture of hMSCs in 20%, but not 100%, AH potently induced alkaline phosphatase activity. HTM cells in culture possessed uniformly strong expression of αSMA, which contrasted with the limited expression in hMSCs and spatially discrete expression in HTM tissue.
CONCLUSIONS: HTM cells possess a number of important similarities with hMSCs but lack multipotency, one of the defining characteristics of stem cells. Further work is needed to explore the molecular mechanisms and functional implications underlying the phenotypic similarities.
Robust and artifact-free mounting of tissue samples for atomic force microscopy
Biotechniques. 2014 Jan;56(1):40-2. doi: 10.2144/000114126.
Immobilization of tissue-samples for atomic for microscopy (AFM) is typically done using either semi-dry tissue or by gluing the tissue sample down, both of which can introduce artifacts. Here, we describe the design of a Soft- Clamping Immobilizing Retainer of Tissue (SCIRT) for consistent and nondestructive immobilization of tissues for AFM analysis. We compare the performance of our SCIRT method with glue-immobilization for two difficult to handle tissue types: human trabecular meshwork (HTM) and rabbit cornea (RC). Our results demonstrate that the SCIRT method has several advantages, including: (i) allowing for small sample sizes, (ii) enabling continuous hydration, (iii) eliminating contact with glue or associated solvents, (iv) permitting sample recovery following measurement, and (v) ease of use. In conclusion, the SCIRT method is a simple and effective means of immobilizing soft, hydrated tissue samples consistently and without artifacts.
Photopatternable and photoactive hydrogel for on-demand generation of hydrogen peroxide in cell culture
Biomaterials. 2014 Feb;35(5):1762-70. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2013.11.030. Epub 2013 Nov 28.
Oxidative stress, largely mediated by reactive oxygen species (ROS), is a nearly ubiquitous component in complex biological processes such as aging and disease. Optimal in vitro methods used in elucidating disease mechanisms would deliver of low levels of hydrogen peroxide, emulating the in vivo pathological state, but current methods are limited by kinetic stability or accurate measurement of the dose administered. Here we present an in vitro platform that exploits anthraquinone catalysts for the photocatalytic production of hydrogen peroxide. This system can be dynamically tuned to provide constant generation of hydrogen peroxide at a desired physiologic rate over at least 14 days and is described using a kinetic model. Material characterization and stability is discussed along with a proof-of-concept in vitro study that assessed the viability of cells as they were oxidatively challenged over 24 h at different ROS generation rates.
Elastic modulus and collagen organization of the rabbit cornea: epithelium to endothelium
Acta Biomater. 2014 Feb;10(2):785-91. doi: 10.1016/j.actbio.2013.09.025. Epub 2013 Sep 29.
The rabbit is commonly used to evaluate new corneal prosthetics and study corneal wound healing. Knowledge of the stiffness of the rabbit cornea would better inform the design and fabrication of keratoprosthetics and substrates with relevant mechanical properties for in vitro investigations of corneal cellular behavior. This study determined the elastic modulus of the rabbit corneal epithelium, anterior basement membrane (ABM), anterior and posterior stroma, Descemet's membrane (DM) and endothelium using atomic force microscopy (AFM). In addition, three-dimensional collagen fiber organization of the rabbit cornea was determined using nonlinear optical high-resolution macroscopy. The elastic modulus as determined by AFM for each corneal layer was: epithelium, 0.57 ± 0.29 kPa (mean ± SD); ABM, 4.5 ± 1.2 kPa, anterior stroma, 1.1 ± 0.6 kPa; posterior stroma, 0.38 ± 0.22 kPa; DM, 11.7 ± 7.4 kPa; and endothelium, 4.1 ± 1.7 kPa. The biophysical properties, including the elastic modulus, are unique for each layer of the rabbit cornea and are dramatically softer in comparison to the corresponding regions of the human cornea. Collagen fiber organization is also dramatically different between the two species, with markedly less intertwining observed in the rabbit vs. human cornea. Given that the substratum stiffness considerably alters the corneal cell behavior, keratoprosthetics that incorporate mechanical properties simulating the native human cornea may not elicit optimal cellular performance in rabbit corneas that have dramatically different elastic moduli. These data should allow for the design of substrates that better mimic the biomechanical properties of the corneal cellular environment.
Safety and immunomodulatory effects of allogeneic canine adipose-derived mesenchymal stromal cells transplanted into the region of the lacrimal gland, the gland of the third eyelid and the knee joint
Cytotherapy. 2013 Dec;15(12):1498-510. doi: 10.1016/j.jcyt.2013.06.009. Epub 2013 Aug 29.
BACKGROUND AIMS: Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) have been extensively studied as a cellular therapeutic for various pathologic conditions. However, there remains a paucity of data regarding regional and systemic safety of MSC transplantations, particularly with multiple deliveries of allogeneic cells. The purpose of this study was to investigate the safety and systemic immunomodulatory effects of repeated local delivery of allogeneic MSCs into the region of the lacrimal gland, the gland of the third eyelid and the knee joint in dogs.
METHODS: Allogeneic adipose tissue-derived canine MSCs were delivered to the regions of the lacrimal gland and the third eyelid gland as well as in the knee joints of six healthy laboratory beagles as follows: six times with 1-week intervals for delivery to the lacrimal gland and the third eyelid gland regions and three to four times with 1- to 2-week intervals for intra-articular transplantations. Dogs were sequentially evaluated by clinical examination. At the conclusion of the study, dogs were humanely euthanized, and a complete gross and histopathologic examination of all organ systems was performed. Mixed leukocyte reactions were also performed before the first transplantation and after the final transplantation.
RESULTS: Clinical and pathologic examinations found no severe consequences after repeated MSC transplantations. Results of mixed leukocyte reactions demonstrated suppression of T-cell proliferation after MSC transplantations.
CONCLUSIONS: This is the first study to demonstrate regional and systemic safety and systemic immunomodulatory effects of repeated local delivery of allogeneic MSCs in vivo.
Substratum compliance modulates corneal fibroblast to myofibroblast transformation
Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2013 Aug 28;54(8):5901-7. doi: 10.1167/iovs.12-11575.
PURPOSE: The transformation of fibroblasts to myofibroblasts is critical to corneal wound healing, stromal haze formation, and scarring. It has recently been demonstrated that the provision of biomimetic substratum topographic cues inhibits the progression toward the myofibroblast phenotype under the influence of transforming growth factor β1 (TGF-β1). The objective of this study was to determine the effect of another fundamental biophysical cue, substrate compliance, on TGF-β1-induced myofibroblast transformation of primary corneal cells isolated from human and rabbit corneas.
METHODS: Human and rabbit corneal fibroblasts were cultured on surfaces of varying substrate compliance (4-71 kPa) and tissue culture plastic (TCP) (> 1 gigapascal [GPa]). Cells were cultured in media containing TGF-β1 at concentrations of 0, 1, or 10 ng/mL for 72 hours. RNA and protein were collected from cells cultured on polyacrylamide gels and TCP and were analyzed for the expression of α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA), a key marker of myofibroblast transformation, using quantitative PCR, immunocytochemistry, and Western blot.
RESULTS: Cells grown on more compliant substrates demonstrated significantly reduced amounts of α-SMA mRNA compared with TCP. Immunocytochemistry and Western blot analysis determining the presence of α-SMA corroborated this finding, thus confirming a reduced transformation to the myofibroblast phenotype on more compliant substrates compared with cells on TCP in the presence of TGF-β1.
CONCLUSIONS: These data indicate that substrate compliance modulates TGF-β1-induced expression of α-SMA and thus influences myofibroblast transformation in the corneal stroma. This provides further evidence that biomimetic biophysical cues inhibit myofibroblast transformation and participate in stabilizing the native cellular phenotype.
What do mechanotransduction, Hippo, Wnt, and TGFβ have in common? YAP and TAZ as key orchestrating molecules in ocular health and disease
Exp Eye Res. 2013 Oct;115:1-12. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2013.06.012. Epub 2013 Jun 20.
Cells in vivo are exposed to a complex signaling environment. Biochemical signaling modalities, such as secreted proteins, specific extracellular matrix domains and ion fluxes certainly compose an important set of regulatory signals to cells. However, these signals are not exerted in isolation, but rather in concert with biophysical cues of the surrounding tissue, such as stiffness and topography. In this review, we attempt to highlight the biophysical attributes of ocular tissues and their influence on cellular behavior. Additionally, we introduce the proteins YAP and TAZ as targets of biophysical and biochemical signaling and important agonists and antagonists of numerous signaling pathways, including TGFβ and Wnt. We frame the discussion around this extensive signaling crosstalk, which allows YAP and TAZ to act as orchestrating molecules, capable of integrating biophysical and biochemical cues into a broad cellular response. Finally, while we draw on research from various fields to provide a full picture of YAP and TAZ, we attempt to highlight the intersections with vision science and the exciting work that has already been performed.
Substratum stiffness and latrunculin B modulate the gene expression of the mechanotransducers YAP and TAZ in human trabecular meshwork cells
Exp Eye Res. 2013 Aug;113:66-73. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2013.05.014. Epub 2013 May 29.
The compliance of the human trabecular meshwork (HTM) has been shown to dramatically stiffen in glaucomatous patients. The purpose of this study was to determine the impact of substratum stiffness and latrunculin-B (Lat-B) on the expression and activity of the mechanotransducers, Yes-associated protein (YAP) and transcriptional coactivator with PDZ-binding domain (TAZ), in primary HTM cells as the cells start to recover from Lat-B treatment. Primary human trabecular meshwork (HTM) cells were cultured on hydrogels possessing stiffness values mimicking those found in normal (5 kPa) and glaucomatous meshworks (75 kPa), or tissue culture polystyrene (TCP; >1 GPa). Cells were treated with 2.0 μM Lat-B in DMSO or DMSO alone. RT-PCR was used to determine the impact of substratum stiffness and/or Lat-B treatment on the expression of YAP, TAZ, 14-3-3σ, plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1), and connective tissue growth factor (CTGF). Immunoblotting was used to determine the expression of YAP and TAZ as well as the phosphorylation status of YAP. Immunofluorescence was used to determine YAP protein localization. YAP and TAZ mRNA expression were upregulated on the 75 kPa hydrogels in comparison to the 5 kPa hydrogels and TCP. Treatment with Lat-B resulted in a rapid and dramatic downregulation of YAP and TAZ on the 75 kPa hydrogels. On hydrogels, Lat-B treatment increased the phosphorylation of YAP at S127, while decreasing it on TCP. Similarly, Lat-B treatment resulted in markedly decreased nuclear localization of YAP on the hydrogels but elevated nuclear localization on TCP. Lat-B treatment of HTM cells on the 75 kPa hydrogels also increased 14-3-3σ mRNA, a protein important in YAP/TAZ degradation. In addition, Lat-B treatment decreased CTGF and PAI-1 mRNA on the 75 kPa hydrogels. In conclusion, substratum stiffness alters YAP/TAZ expression and YAP localization in primary HTM cells which then may modulate the expression of extracellular matrix proteins important in glaucoma. During the recovery period after Lat-B treatment, gene expression changes are more dramatic on substrates with stiffness similar to glaucomatous meshwork. Use of these hydrogels may more accurately reflect the alterations occurring in HTM cells in glaucoma after treatment with this drug.
Early responses of vascular endothelial cells to topographic cues
Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2013 Aug 1;305(3):C290-8. doi: 10.1152/ajpcell.00264.2012. Epub 2013 May 22.
Vascular endothelial cells in vivo are exposed to multiple biophysical cues provided by the basement membrane, a specialized extracellular matrix through which vascular endothelial cells are attached to the underlying stroma. The importance of biophysical cues has been widely reported, but the signaling pathways that mediate cellular recognition and response to these cues remain poorly understood. Anisotropic topographically patterned substrates with nano- through microscale feature dimensions were fabricated to investigate cellular responses to topographic cues. The present study focuses on early events following exposure of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) to these patterned substrates. In serum-free medium and on substrates without protein coating, HUVECs oriented parallel to the long axis of underlying ridges in as little as 30 min. Immunocytochemistry showed clear differences in the localization of the focal adhesion proteins Src, p130Cas, and focal adhesion kinase (FAK) in HUVECs cultured on topographically patterned surfaces and on planar surfaces, suggesting involvement of these proteins in mediating the response to topographic features. Knockdown experiments demonstrated that FAK was not necessary for HUVEC alignment in response to topographic cues, although FAK knockdown did modulate HUVEC migration. These data identify key events early in the cellular response to biophysical stimuli.
Influence of extracellular matrix proteins and substratum topography on corneal epithelial cell alignment and migration
Tissue Eng Part A. 2013 Aug;19(15-16):1713-22. doi: 10.1089/ten.TEA.2012.0584.
The basement membrane (BM) of the corneal epithelium presents biophysical cues in the form of topography and compliance that can impact the phenotype and behaviors of cells and their nuclei through modulation of cytoskeletal dynamics. In addition, it is also well known that the intrinsic biochemical attributes of BMs can modulate cell behaviors. In this study, the influence of the combination of exogenous coating of extracellular matrix proteins (ECM) (fibronectin-collagen [FNC]) with substratum topography was investigated on cytoskeletal architecture as well as alignment and migration of immortalized corneal epithelial cells. In the absence of FNC coating, a significantly greater percentage of cells aligned parallel with the long axis of the underlying anisotropically ordered topographic features; however, their ability to migrate was impaired. Additionally, changes in the surface area, elongation, and orientation of cytoskeletal elements were differentially influenced by the presence or absence of FNC. These results suggest that the effects of topographic cues on cells are modulated by the presence of surface-associated ECM proteins. These findings have relevance to experiments using cell cultureware with biomimetic biophysical attributes as well as the integration of biophysical cues in tissue-engineering strategies and the development of improved prosthetics.
Role of substratum stiffness in modulating genes associated with extracellular matrix and mechanotransducers YAP and TAZ
Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2013 Jan 14;54(1):378-86. doi: 10.1167/iovs.12-11007.
PURPOSE: Primary open-angle glaucoma is characterized by increased resistance to aqueous humor outflow and a stiffer human trabecular meshwork (HTM). Two Yorkie homologues, Yes-associated protein (YAP) and transcriptional coactivator with PDZ-binding motif, encoded by WWTR1 (TAZ), are mechanotransducers of the extracellular-microenvironment and coactivators of transcription. Here, we explore how substratum stiffness modulates the YAP/TAZ pathway and extracellular matrix genes in HTM cells and how this may be play a role in the onset and progression of glaucoma.
METHODS: HTM cells from normal donors were cultured on hydrogels mimicking the stiffness of normal (5 kPa) and glaucomatous (75 kPa) HTM. Changes in expression of YAP/TAZ related genes and steroid responsiveness were determined. Additionally, transglutaminase-2 expression was determined after YAP silencing.
RESULTS: YAP and TAZ are both expressed in human trabecular meshwork cells. In vitro, YAP and TAZ were inversely regulated by substratum stiffness. YAP and 14-3-3σ were downregulated to different extents on stiffer substrates; TAZ, tissue transglutaminase (TGM2), and soluble frizzled-related protein-1 (sFRP-1) were significantly upregulated. CTGF expression appeared to be altered differentially by both YAP and TAZ. Myocilin and angiopoietin-like 7 expression in response to dexamethasone was more pronounced on stiffer substrates. We demonstrated a direct effect by YAP on TGM2 when YAP was silenced by small interfering RNA.
CONCLUSIONS: The expression of YAP/TAZ and ECM-related-genes is impacted on physiologically relevant substrates. YAP was upregulated in cells on softer substrates. Stiffer substrates resulted in upregulation of canonical Wnt modulators, TAZ and sFRP-1, and thus may influence the progression of glaucoma. These results demonstrate the importance of YAP/TAZ in the HTM and suggest their role in glaucoma.
Nuclear and cellular alignment of primary corneal epithelial cells on topography
J Biomed Mater Res A. 2013 Apr;101(4):1069-79. doi: 10.1002/jbm.a.34417. Epub 2012 Sep 11.
The basement membrane of the corneal epithelium presents biophysical cues in the form of topography and compliance that can modulate cytoskeletal dynamics, which, in turn, can result in altering cellular and nuclear morphology and alignment. In this study, the effect of topographic patterns of alternating ridges and grooves on nuclear and cellular shape and alignment was determined. Primary corneal epithelial cells were cultured on either planar or topographically patterned (400-4000 nm pitch) substrates. Alignment of individual cell body was correlated with respective nucleus for the analysis of orientation and elongation. A biphasic response in alignment was observed. Cell bodies preferentially aligned perpendicular to the 800 nm pitch; and with increasing pitch, cells increasingly aligned parallel to the substratum. Nuclear orientation largely followed this trend with the exception of those on 400 nm. On this biomimetic size scale, some nuclei oriented perpendicular to the topography while their cytoskeleton elements aligned parallel. Both nuclei and cell bodies were elongated on topography compared to those on flat surfaces. Our data demonstrate that nuclear orientation and shape are differentially altered by topographic features that are not mandated by alignment of the cell body. This novel finding suggests that nuanced differences in alignment of the nucleus versus the cell body exist and that these differences could have consequences on gene and protein regulation that ultimately regulate cell behaviors. A full understanding of these mechanisms could disclose novel pathways that would better inform evolving strategies in cell, stem cell, and tissue engineering as well as the design and fabrication of improved prosthetic devices.
Focal adhesion kinase knockdown modulates the response of human corneal epithelial cells to topographic cues
Acta Biomater. 2012 Dec;8(12):4285-94. doi: 10.1016/j.actbio.2012.07.004. Epub 2012 Jul 17.
A rapidly expanding literature broadly documents the impact of biophysical cues on cellular behaviors. In spite of increasing research efforts in this field, the underlying signaling processes are poorly understood. One of the candidate molecules for being involved in mechanotransduction is focal adhesion kinase (FAK). To examine the role of FAK in the response of immortalized human corneal epithelial (hTCEpi) cells to topographic cues, FAK was depleted by siRNA transfection. Contrary to expectations, FAK knockdown resulted in an enhanced response with a greater number of hTCEpi cells aligned to the long axis of anisotropically ordered surface ridges and grooves. Both underlying topographic features and FAK depletion modulated the migration of corneal epithelial cells. The impact of FAK knockdown on both migration and alignment varied depending on the topographic cues to which the cells were exposed, with the most significant change observed on the biologically relevant size scale (400nm). Additionally, a change in expression of genes encoding perinuclear Nesprins 1 and 2 (SYNE1, 2) was observed in response to topographic cues. SYNE1/2 expression was also altered by FAK depletion, suggesting that these proteins might represent a link between cytosolic and nuclear signaling processes. The data presented here have relevance to our understanding of the fundamental processes involved in corneal cell behavior to topographic cues. These results highlight the importance of incorporating biophysical cues in the conduction of in vitro studies and into the design and fabrication of implantable prosthetics.
The modulation of canine mesenchymal stem cells by nano-topographic cues
Exp Cell Res. 2012 Nov 15;318(19):2438-45. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2012.06.022. Epub 2012 Jul 4.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) represent a promising cellular therapeutic for the treatment of a variety of disorders. On transplantation, MSCs interact with diverse extracellular matrices (ECMs) that vary dramatically in topographic feature type, size and surface order. In order to investigate the impact of these topographic cues, surfaces were fabricated with either isotropically ordered holes or anisotropically ordered ridges and grooves. To simulate the biologically relevant nano through micron size scale, a series of topographically patterned substrates possessing features of differing pitch (pitch=feature width+groove width) were created. Results document that the surface order and size of substratum topographic features dramatically modulate fundamental MSC behaviors. Topographically patterned (ridge+groove) surfaces were found to significantly impact MSC alignment, elongation, and aspect ratio. Novel findings also demonstrate that submicron surfaces patterned with holes resulted in increased MSC alignment to adjacent cells as well as increased migration rates. Overall, this study demonstrates that the presentation of substratum topographic cues dramatically influence MSC behaviors in a size and shape dependent manner. The response of MSCs to substratum topographic cues was similar to other cell types that have been studied previously with regards to cell shape on ridge and groove surfaces but differed with respect to proliferation and migration. This is the first study to compare the impact of anisotropically ordered ridge and groove topographic cues to isotropically order holed topographic cues on fundamental MSC behaviors across a range of biologically relevant size scales.
Integration of basal topographic cues and apical shear stress in vascular endothelial cells
Biomaterials. 2012 Jun;33(16):4126-35. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2012.02.047. Epub 2012 Mar 13.
In vivo, vascular endothelial cells (VECs) are anchored to the underlying stroma through a specialization of the extracellular matrix, the basement membrane (BM) which provides a variety of substratum associated biophysical cues that have been shown to regulate fundamental VEC behaviors. VEC function and homeostasis are also influenced by hemodynamic cues applied to their apical surface. How the combination of these biophysical cues impacts fundamental VEC behavior remains poorly studied. In the present study, we investigated the impact of providing biophysical cues simultaneously to the basal and apical surfaces of human aortic endothelial cells (HAECs). Anisotropically ordered patterned surfaces of alternating ridges and grooves and isotropic holed surfaces of varying pitch (pitch = ridge or hole width + intervening groove or planar regions) were fabricated and seeded with HAECs. The cells were then subjected to a steady shear stress of 20 dyne/cm(2) applied either parallel or perpendicular to the direction of the ridge/groove topography. HAECs subjected to flow parallel to the ridge/groove topography exhibited protagonistic effects of the two stimuli on cellular orientation and elongation. In contrast, flow perpendicular to the substrate topography resulted in largely antagonistic effects. Interestingly, the behavior depended on the shape and size of the topographic features. HAECs exhibited a response that was less influenced by the substratum and primarily driven by flow on isotropically ordered holed surfaces of identical pitch to the anistropically ordered surfaces of alternating ridges and grooves. Simultaneous presentation of biophysical cues to the basal and apical aspects of cells also influenced nuclear orientation and elongation; however, the extent of nuclear realignment was more modest in comparison to cellular realignment regardless of the surface order of topographic features. Flow-induced HAEC migration was also influenced by the ridge/groove surface topographic features with significantly altered migration direction and increased migration tortuosity when flow was oriented perpendicular to the topography; this effect was also pitch-dependent. The present findings provide valuable insight into the interaction of biologically relevant apical and basal biophysical cues in regulating cellular behavior and promise to inform improved prosthetic design.
The influence of a biologically relevant substratum topography on human aortic and umbilical vein endothelial cells
Biophys J. 2012 Mar 7;102(5):1224-33. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2012.01.053. Epub 2012 Mar 6.
A topographically patterned substrate with stochastic surface order that closely mimics the topographic features of native basement membranes has been fabricated to investigate the influence of topographic biophysical cueing on human aortic and umbilical vein endothelial cells. The stochastic substrate was fabricated by first generating a highly porous polyelectrolyte multilayer film of poly(acrylic acid) and poly(allylamine hydrochloride) followed by replicate production of this biomimetic topography via soft lithography. These substrates, which are easy to prepare and replicate, possess a number of prominent features associated with in vivo vascular basement membrane (interwoven ridges and grooves, bumps, and pores), which have typically been studied as singular features that frequently possess anisotropic surface order (e.g., alternating ridges and grooves). When compared to a flat surface of identical chemistry, these biomimetic topographies influenced a number of important cellular behaviors associated with the homeostasis and degradation of vascular tissues. These include modulating cell migration rate and directional persistence, proliferation rate, and gene expression associated with regulation and remodeling of vascular tissues as well as inflammation.
Altered stability of mRNAs associated with glaucoma progression in human trabecular meshwork cells following oxidative stress
Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2012 Apr 2;53(4):1734-41. doi: 10.1167/iovs.12-7938.
PURPOSE: The goals of this study were to determine if oxidative stress on human trabecular meshwork (HTM) cells influences the stability of key mRNAs containing AU rich elements (AREs) known to be associated with glaucoma progression, and if the presence of topographic cue alters the stability of these mRNAs.
METHODS: HTM cells were treated with 300 μM hydrogen peroxide (H(2)O(2)) for 1 hour in the presence of 5 μg/mL actinomycin D and compared with untreated cells. The selected mRNAs (IL-6, IL-8, myocilin, SPARC [secreted protein, acidic and rich in cysteine], matrix metalloproteinase [MMP]-3, and MMP-9) from the cells were analyzed by using relative quantitative PCR. Immunohistochemistry for Hu antigen R (HuR) was performed in addition to Western blots of HuR. HTM cells were also grown on topographically patterned surfaces, and IL-6 mRNA was analyzed by quantitative PCR.
RESULTS: H(2)O(2) increased IL-6 mRNA stability 0.145 (0.095-0.27) to 0.345 (0.2-0.48) (normalized ratio, median [interquartile range]) (n = 5), while IL-8 mRNA was increased from 0.565 (0.408-0.6) to 0.775 (0.486-0.873) (n = 5). These differences were statistically significant (P = 0.0313, for both IL-6 and IL-8; Wilcoxon signed-rank test). The mRNAs of myocilin, SPARC, and MMP-3, which do not have AREs, were more stable after actinomycin D treatment and were not altered with oxidation. Western blot and immunohistochemistry demonstrated that H(2)O(2) treatment induces the translocation of HuR from the nucleus to the cytoplasm. Nanopatterned surfaces did not alter IL-6 mRNA stability.
CONCLUSIONS: Oxidative stress stabilizes IL-6 and IL-8 mRNAs significantly. The decay of certain mRNAs associated with glaucoma may be altered in the trabecular meshwork of glaucoma patients.
Substratum stiffness and latrunculin B regulate matrix gene and protein expression in human trabecular meshwork cells
Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2012 Feb 23;53(2):952-8. doi: 10.1167/iovs.11-8526. Print 2012 Feb.
PURPOSE: To determine the impact of substratum stiffness and latrunculin-B (Lat-B), on the expression of several matrix proteins that are associated with glaucoma.
METHODS: Human trabecular meshwork (HTM) cells were cultured on hydrogels possessing stiffness values mimicking those found in normal (5 kPa) and glaucomatous meshworks (75 kPa), or tissue culture polystyrene (TCP; >1 GPa). Cells were treated with 2.0 μM Lat-B in dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) or DMSO alone. RT-PCR was used to determine the impact of substratum stiffness and/or Lat-B treatment on the expression of secreted protein, acidic, cysteine rich (SPARC), myocilin, angiopoietin-like factor (ANGPTL)-7, and transglutaminase (TGM)-2. Immunofluorescence was used to assess changes in protein expression.
RESULTS: SPARC and myocilin mRNA expression were dramatically increased on the 75 kPa hydrogels and decreased on the 5 kPa hydrogels in comparison to TCP. In contrast, ANGPTL-7 mRNA and TGM-2 mRNA was decreased on the 75 kPa and 5 kPa hydrogels, respectively, in comparison with TCP. Treatment with Lat-B dramatically downregulated both SPARC and myocilin on 75 kPa hydrogels. In contrast, cells grown on TCP produced greater or similar amounts of SPARC and myocilin mRNA after Lat-B treatment. SPARC and myocilin protein expression paralleled changes in mRNA expression.
CONCLUSIONS: Substratum stiffness impacts HTM matrix gene and protein expression and modulates the impact of Lat-B treatment on the expression of these matrix proteins. Integrating the use of biologically relevant substratum stiffness in the conduction of in vitro experiments gives important insights into HTM cell response to drugs that may more accurately predict responses observed in vivo.
Periocular and intra-articular injection of canine adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells: an in vivo imaging and migration study
J Ocul Pharmacol Ther. 2012 Jun;28(3):307-17. doi: 10.1089/jop.2011.0166. Epub 2011 Dec 16.
PURPOSE: Immune-mediated diseases affect millions of people worldwide with an economic impact measured in the billions of dollars. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are being investigated in the treatment of certain immune mediated diseases, but their application in the treatment of the majority of these disorders remains largely unexplored. Keratoconjunctivitis sicca can occur as a result of progressive immune-mediated destruction of lacrimal tissue in dogs and humans, and immune-mediated joint disease is common to both species. In dogs, allogeneic MSC engraftment and migration have yet to be investigated in vivo in the context of repeated injections.
METHODS: With these aims in mind, the engraftment of allogeneic canine MSCs after an injection into the periocular and intra-articular regions was followed in vivo using magnetic resonance and fluorescent imaging.
RESULTS: The cells were shown to be resident near the site of the injection for a minimum of 2 weeks. Analysis of 61 tissues demonstrated preferential migration and subsequent engraftment of MSCs in the thymus as well as the gastrointestinal tract. These results also detail a novel in vivo imaging technique and demonstrate the differential spatial distribution of MSCs after migration away from the sites of local delivery.
CONCLUSION: The active engraftment of the MSCs in combination with their previously documented immunomodulatory capabilities suggests the potential for therapeutic benefit in using MSCs for the treatment of periocular and joint diseases with immune involvement.
Topographic modulation of the orientation and shape of cell nuclei and their influence on the measured elastic modulus of epithelial cells
Biophys J. 2011 Nov 2;101(9):2139-46. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2011.09.042. Epub 2011 Nov 1.
The influence of nucleus shape and orientation on the elastic modulus of epithelial cells was investigated with atomic force microscopy. The shape and orientation were controlled by presenting the epithelial cells with anisotropic parallel ridges and grooves of varying pitch at the cell substratum. As the cells oriented to the underlying topography, the volume of the nucleus increased as the pitch of the topography increased from 400 nm to 2000 nm. The increase in nucleus volume was reflected by an increase in the measured elastic modulus of the topographically aligned cells. Significant alterations in the shape of the nucleus, by intimate contact with the topographic ridge and grooves of the underlying cell, were also observed via confocal microscopy, indicating that the nucleus may also act as a direct mechanosensor of substratum topography.
Substratum compliance regulates human trabecular meshwork cell behaviors and response to latrunculin B
Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2011 Dec 2;52(13):9298-303. doi: 10.1167/iovs.11-7857.
PURPOSE: To determine the impact of substratum compliance and latrunculin-B (Lat-B), both alone and together, on fundamental human trabecular meshwork (HTM) cell behavior. Lat-B is a reversible actin cytoskeleton disruptor that decreases resistance to aqueous humor outflow and decreases intraocular pressure.
METHODS: HTM cells were cultured on polyacrylamide hydrogels possessing values for compliance that mimic those reported for normal and glaucomatous HTM, or tissue culture plastic (TCP). Cells were treated with 0.2 μM or 2.0 μM Lat-B in dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) or DMSO alone. The impact of substratum compliance and/or Lat-B treatment on cell attachment, proliferation, surface area, aspect ratio, and migration were investigated.
RESULTS: HTM cells had profoundly decreased attachment and proliferation rates when cultured on hydrogels possessing compliance values that mimic those found for healthy HTM. The effect of Lat-B treatment on HTM cell surface area was less for cells cultured on more compliant hydrogels compared with TCP. HTM cell migration was increased on stiffer hydrogels that mimic the compliance of glaucomatous HTM and on TCP in comparison with more compliant hydrogels. Lat-B treatment decreased cellular migration on all surfaces for at least 7 hours after treatment.
CONCLUSIONS: Substratum compliance profoundly influenced HTM cell behaviors and modulated the response of HTM cells to Lat-B. The inclusion of substratum compliance that reflects healthy or glaucomatous HTM results in cell behaviors and responses to therapeutic agents in vitro that may more accurately reflect in vivo conditions.
Modulation of osteogenic differentiation in hMSCs cells by submicron topographically-patterned ridges and grooves
Biomaterials. 2012 Jan;33(1):128-36. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2011.09.058. Epub 2011 Oct 7.
Recent studies have shown that nanoscale and submicron topographic cues modulate a menu of fundamental cell behaviors, and the use of topographic cues is an expanding area of study in tissue engineering. We used topographically-patterned substrates containing anisotropically ordered ridges and grooves to investigate the effects of topographic cues on mesenchymal stem cell morphology, proliferation, and osteogenic differentiation. We found that human mesenchymal stem cells cultured on 1400 or 4000 nm pitches showed greater elongation and alignment relative to 400 nm pitch or planar control. Cells cultured on 400 nm pitch demonstrated significant increases in RUNX2 and BGLAP expression relative to cells cultured on 1400 or 4000 nm pitch or planar control. Four-hundred nanometer pitch enhanced extracellular calcium deposition. Cells cultured in osteoinductive medium revealed combinatory effects of topography and chemical cues on 400 nm pitch as well as up-regulation of expression of ID1, a target of the BMP pathway. Our data demonstrate that a specific size scale of topographic cue promotes osteogenic differentiation with or without osteogenic agents. These data demonstrate that the integration of topographic cues may be useful for the fabrication of orthopedic implants.
The role of substratum compliance of hydrogels on vascular endothelial cell behavior
Biomaterials. 2011 Aug;32(22):5056-64. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2011.03.054. Epub 2011 Apr 17.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains a leading cause of death both within the United States (US) as well as globally. In 2006 alone, over one-third of all deaths in the US were attributable to CVD. The high prevalence, mortality, morbidity, and socioeconomic impact of CVD has motivated a significant research effort; however, there remain significant knowledge gaps regarding disease onset and progression as well as pressing needs for improved therapeutic approaches. One critical area of research that has received limited attention is the role of biophysical cues on the modulation of endothelial cell behaviors; specifically, the impact of local compliance, or the stiffness, of the surrounding vascular endothelial extracellular matrix. In this study, the impact of substratum compliance on the modulation of cell behaviors of several human primary endothelial cell types, representing different anatomic sites and differentiation states in vivo, were investigated. Substrates used within our studies span the range of compliance that has been reported for the vascular endothelial basement membrane. Differences in substratum compliance had a profound impact on cell attachment, spreading, elongation, proliferation, and migration. In addition, each cell population responded differentially to changes in substratum compliance, documenting endothelial heterogeneity in the response to biophysical cues. These results demonstrate the importance of incorporating substratum compliance in the design of in vitro experiments as well as future prosthetic design. Alterations in vascular substratum compliance directly influence endothelial cell behavior and may participate in the onset and/or progression of CVDs.
Indentation versus tensile measurements of Young's modulus for soft biological tissues
Tissue Eng Part B Rev. 2011 Jun;17(3):155-64. doi: 10.1089/ten.TEB.2010.0520. Epub 2011 Mar 21.
In this review, we compare the reported values of Young's modulus (YM) obtained from indentation and tensile deformations of soft biological tissues. When the method of deformation is ignored, YM values for any given tissue typically span several orders of magnitude. If the method of deformation is considered, then a consistent and less ambiguous result emerges. On average, YM values for soft tissues are consistently lower when obtained by indentation deformations. We discuss the implications and potential impact of this finding.
The effect of biophysical attributes of the ocular trabecular meshwork associated with glaucoma on the cell response to therapeutic agents
Biomaterials. 2011 Mar;32(9):2417-23. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2010.11.071. Epub 2011 Jan 8.
Glaucoma is a devastating neurodegenerative disease, which can lead to vision loss and is associated with irreversible damage to retinal ganglion cells. Although the mechanism of disease onset remains unknown, we have recently demonstrated that the stiffness of the ocular trabecular meshwork (HTM) increases dramatically in human donor eyes with a history of glaucoma. Here we report that polyacrylamide hydrogels, which mimic the compliant conditions of normal and glaucomatous HTM, profoundly modulate cytoskeletal dynamics and the elastic modulus of the overlying HTM cells. Substratum compliance also modulates HTM cell response to Latrunculin-B, a cytoskeletal disrupting agent currently in human clinical trials for the treatment of glaucoma. Additionally, we observed a compliance-dependent rebound effect of Latrunculin-B with an unexpected increase in HTM cell elastic modulus being observed upon withdrawal of the drug. The results predict that cytoskeletal disrupting drugs may be more potent in advanced stages of glaucoma.
Tonoplast-localized Abc2 transporter mediates phytochelatin accumulation in vacuoles and confers cadmium tolerance
J Biol Chem. 2010 Dec 24;285(52):40416-26. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.155408. Epub 2010 Oct 11.
Phytochelatins mediate tolerance to heavy metals in plants and some fungi by sequestering phytochelatin-metal complexes into vacuoles. To date, only Schizosaccharomyces pombe Hmt1 has been described as a phytochelatin transporter and attempts to identify orthologous phytochelatin transporters in plants and other organisms have failed. Furthermore, recent data indicate that the hmt1 mutant accumulates significant phytochelatin levels in vacuoles, suggesting that unidentified phytochelatin transporters exist in fungi. Here, we show that deletion of all vacuolar ABC transporters abolishes phytochelatin accumulation in S. pombe vacuoles and abrogates (35)S-PC(2) uptake into S. pombe microsomal vesicles. Systematic analysis of the entire S. pombe ABC transporter family identified Abc2 as a full-size ABC transporter (ABCC-type) that mediates phytochelatin transport into vacuoles. The S. pombe abc1 abc2 abc3 abc4 hmt1 quintuple and abc2 hmt1 double mutant show no detectable phytochelatins in vacuoles. Abc2 expression restores phytochelatin accumulation into vacuoles and suppresses the cadmium sensitivity of the abc quintuple mutant. A novel, unexpected, function of Hmt1 in GS-conjugate transport is also shown. In contrast to Hmt1, Abc2 orthologs are widely distributed among kingdoms and are proposed as the long-sought vacuolar phytochelatin transporters in plants and other organisms.