Extracellular matrix fibronectin stimulates the self-assembly of microtissues on native collagen gels.

Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York 14642, USA.
Tissue Engineering Part A (Impact Factor: 4.64). 12/2010; 16(12):3805-19. DOI: 10.1089/ten.TEA.2010.0316
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Fibronectin is an adhesive glycoprotein that is polymerized into extracellular matrices via a tightly regulated, cell-dependent process. Here, we demonstrate that fibronectin matrix polymerization induces the self-assembly of multicellular structures in vitro, termed tissue bodies. Fibronectin-null mouse embryonic fibroblasts adherent to compliant gels of polymerized type I collagen failed to spread or proliferate. In contrast, addition of fibronectin to collagen-adherent fibronectin-null mouse embryonic fibroblasts resulted in a dose-dependent increase in cell number, and induced the formation of three-dimensional (3D) multicellular structures that remained adherent and well-spread on the native collagen substrate. An extensive fibrillar fibronectin matrix formed throughout the microtissue. Blocking fibronectin matrix polymerization inhibited both cell proliferation and microtissue formation, demonstrating the importance of fibronectin fibrillogenesis in triggering cellular self-organization. Cell proliferation, tissue body formation, and tissue body shape were dependent on both fibronectin and collagen concentrations, suggesting that the relative proportion of collagen and fibronectin fibrils polymerized into the extracellular matrix influences the extent of cell proliferation and the final shape of microtissues. These data demonstrate a novel role for cell-mediated fibronectin fibrillogenesis in the formation and vertical assembly of microtissues, and provide a novel approach for engineering complex tissue architecture.

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