[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Fibronectin is a globular protein that circulates in the blood and undergoes fibrillogenesis if stretched or under other partially denaturing conditions, even in the absence of cells. Stretch assays made by pulling fibers from droplets of solutions containing high concentrations of fibronectin have previously been introduced in mechanobiology, particularly to ask how bacteria and cells exploit the stretching of fibronectin fibers within extracellular matrix to mechano-regulate its chemical display. Our electron microscopy analysis of their ultrastructure now reveals that the manually pulled fibronectin fibers are composed of densely packed lamellar spirals, whose interlamellar distances are dictated by ion-tunable electrostatic interactions. Our findings suggest that fibrillogenesis proceeds via an irreversible sheet-to-fiber transition as the fibronectin sheet formed at the air-liquid interface of the droplet is pulled off by a sharp tip. This far from equilibrium process is driven by the externally applied force, interfacial surface tension, shear-induced fibronectin self-association, and capillary force-induced buffer drainage. The ul-trastructural characterization is then contrasted with previous FRET studies that characterized the mo-lecular strain within these manually pulled fibers. Particularly relevant for stretch-dependent binding studies is the finding that the interior fiber surfaces are accessible to nanoparticles smaller than 10 nm. In summary, our study discovers the underpinning mechanism by which highly hierarchically structured fibers can be generated with unique mechanical and mechano-chemical properties, a concept that might be extended to other bio-or biomimetic polymers.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The major mechanical function of talin is to couple the β-integrin cytoplasmic tails to actin filaments. A variety of β-integrin tails contain conserved binding motifs for talin, and recent research shows that β-integrins differ both in affinity to talin and preferences for other cytoplasmic adaptor proteins. While talin predominantly links β3 integrins to actin filaments within the peripheral cell adhesion sites, talin can become replaced by other integrin adaptor proteins through their overlapping binding sites on integrin tails. Although the NPxY motif in the β-integrin tail is important for talin recognition, our simulations suggest considerably smaller contribution for the NPxY motif in the force resistance of the talin-integrin complex than for the residues upstream of the NPxY. It might thus be possible for the NPxY motif to detach from talin and interact with other integrin binding proteins while the β-integrin still remains bound to talin. The epithelial integrin β6 reportedly activates latent TGFβ1, and we propose that its function may involve direct interaction with talin.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We present a generic patterning process by which biomolecules in a passivated background are patterned directly from physiological buffer to microfabricated surfaces without the need for further processing. First, nitrodopamine-mPEG is self-assembled to selectively render TiO2 patterns non-fouling to biomolecule adsorption on hydrophilic and adhesive glass surfaces. After the controlled TiO2 passivation, the biomolecules can be directly adsorbed from solution in a single step creating large scale micropatterned and highly homogeneous arrays of biomolecules with very high pattern definition. We demonstrate the formation of fluid supported lipid bilayers (SLBs) down to the single μm-level limited only by the photolithographic process. Non-specific adsorption of lipid vesicles to the TiO2 background was found to be almost completely suppressed. The SLB patterns can be further selectively functionalized with retained mobility, which we demonstrate through biotin–streptavidin coupling. We envision this single step patterning approach to be very beneficial for membrane-based biosensors and for pattering of cells on a passivated background with complex, sub-cellular geometries; in each application the adherent areas have a tunable mobility of interaction sites controlled by the fluidity of the membrane.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Early wound healing is associated with fibroblasts assembling a provisional fibronectin-rich extracellular matrix (ECM), which is subsequently remodeled and interlaced by type I collagen. This exposes fibroblasts to time-variant sets of matrices during different stages of wound healing. Our goal was thus to gain insight into the ECM-driven functional regulation of human foreskin fibroblasts (HFFs) being either anchored to a fibronectin (Fn) or to a collagen-decorated matrix, in the absence or presence of cyclic mechanical strain. While the cells reoriented in response to the onset of uniaxial cyclic strain, cells assembled exogenously added Fn with a preferential Fn-fiber alignment along their new orientation. Exposure of HFFs to exogenous Fn resulted in an increase in matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) expression levels, i.e. MMP-15 (RT-qPCR), and MMP-9 activity (zymography), while subsequent exposure to collagen slightly reduced MMP-15 expression and MMP-9 activity compared to Fn-exposure alone. Cyclic strain upregulated Fn fibrillogenesis and actin stress fiber formation, but had comparatively little effect on MMP activity. We thus propose that the appearance of collagen might start to steer HFFs towards homeostasis, as it decreased both MMP secretion and the tension of Fn matrix fibrils as assessed by Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer. These results suggest that HFFs might have a high ECM remodeling or repair capacity in contact with Fn alone (early event), which is reduced in the presence of Col1 (later event), thereby down-tuning HFF activity, a processes which would be required in a tissue repair process to finally reach tissue homeostasis.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: An increasing body of evidence suggests important roles of extracellular matrix (ECM) in regulating stem cell fate. This knowledge can be exploited in tissue engineering applications for the design of ECM scaffolds appropriate to direct stem cell differentiation. By probing the conformation of fibronectin (Fn) using fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET), we show here that heparin treatment of the fibroblast-derived ECM scaffolds resulted in more extended conformations of fibrillar Fn in ECM. Since heparin is a highly negatively charged molecule while fibronectin contains segments of positively charged modules, including FnIII13, electrostatic interactions between Fn and heparin might interfere with residual quaternary structure in relaxed fibronectin fibers thereby opening up buried sites. The conformation of modules FnIII12–14 in particular, which contain one of the heparin binding sites as well as binding sites for many growth factors, may be activated by heparin, resulting in alterations in growth factor binding to Fn. Indeed, upregulated osteogenic differentiation was observed when hMSCs were seeded on ECM scaffolds that had been treated with heparin and were subsequently chemically fixed. In contrast, either rigidifying relaxed fibers by fixation alone, or heparin treatment without fixation had no effect. We hypothesize that fibronectin's conformations within the ECM are activated by heparin such as to coordinate with other factors to upregulate hMSC osteogenic differentiation. Thus, the conformational changes of fibronectin within the ECM could serve as a ‘converter’ to tune hMSC differentiation in extracellular matrices. This knowledge could also be exploited to promote osteogenic stem cell differentiation on biomedical surfaces.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Phenotypic heterogeneity can confer clonal groups of organisms with new functionality. A paradigmatic example is the bistable expression of virulence genes in Salmonella typhimurium, which leads to phenotypically virulent and phenotypically avirulent subpopulations. The two subpopulations have been shown to divide labor during S. typhimurium infections. Here, we show that heterogeneous virulence gene expression in this organism also promotes survival against exposure to antibiotics through a bet-hedging mechanism. Using microfluidic devices in combination with fluorescence time-lapse microscopy and quantitative image analysis, we analyzed the expression of virulence genes at the single cell level and related it to survival when exposed to antibiotics. We found that, across different types of antibiotics and under concentrations that are clinically relevant, the subpopulation of bacterial cells that express virulence genes shows increased survival after exposure to antibiotics. Intriguingly, there is an interplay between the two consequences of phenotypic heterogeneity. The bet-hedging effect that arises through heterogeneity in virulence gene expression can protect clonal populations against avirulent mutants that exploit and subvert the division of labor within these populations. We conclude that bet-hedging and the division of labor can arise through variation in a single trait and interact with each other. This reveals a new degree of functional complexity of phenotypic heterogeneity. In addition, our results suggest a general principle of how pathogens can evade antibiotics: Expression of virulence factors often entails metabolic costs and the resulting growth retardation could generally increase tolerance against antibiotics and thus compromise treatment.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Nanoshuttles powered by the molecular motor kinesin have the potential to capture and concentrate rare molecules from solution as well as to transport, sort and assemble them in a high-throughput manner. One long-thought-of goal has been the realisation of a molecular assembly line with nanoshuttles as workhorses. To harness them for this purpose might allow the community to engineer novel materials and nanodevices. The central milestone towards this goal is to expose nanoshuttles to a series of different molecules or building blocks and load them sequentially to build hierarchical structures, macromolecules or materials. Here, we addressed this challenge by exploiting the synergy of two so far mostly complementary techniques, nanoshuttle-mediated active transport and pressure-driven passive transport, integrated into a single microfluidic device to demonstrate the realisation of a molecular assembly line. Multiple step protocols can thus be miniaturised to a highly parallelised and autonomous working lab-on-a-chip: in each reaction chamber, analytes or building blocks are captured from solution and are then transported by nanoshuttles across fluid flow boundaries in the next chamber. Cargo can thus be assembled, modified, analysed and eventually unloaded in a procedure that requires only one step by its operator.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A simple and robust method termed "fiber-assisted molding (FAM)" is presented to create biomimetic three-dimensional surfaces with controllable curvature and helical twist. The alignment of muscle fibrils and the assembly of helically patterned extracellular matrix by cells demonstrate the potential of this method for tissue engineering and other materials science applications.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A straightforward strategy is presented for the site-specific incorporation of fluorophores or reactive probes into the extracellular matrix (ECM) protein fibronectin (Fn) by using the enzyme-catalyzed transamidation by activated factor XIII. Characterization by SDS-PAGE, western blotting, absorption measurements, mass spectrometry, and stepwise photobleaching for labeling quantification at the single-molecule level showed that the labeling was efficient and restricted to the N-terminal tails. The introduction of labels did not interfere with Fn fibrillogenesis, as verified by the incorporation of fluorescently labeled Fn into ECM and manually pulled Fn fibers. Site-specific incorporation of an azide was used to create a template for bioorthogonal click chemistry reactions in a second bioconjugation step, thus offering versatile modification and application possibilities in the context of matrix biology and tissue engineering.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: a Adsorbed proteins that promote cell adhesion mediate the response of cells to biomaterials and scaffolds. As proteins undergo conformational changes upon surface adsorption, their functional display may be significantly affected by surface chemistry or solution conditions during the adsorption process. A high-resolution localization microscopy technique is extended here to probe the conformation of individual fibronectin (Fn) molecules at the glass–water interface under physiological buffer conditions. To map dis-tances, four available cysteines located on the modules FnIII 7 and FnIII 15 of dimeric Fn were site-specifi-cally labeled with Cy3B, and their relative positions were determined by stepwise photobleaching with nanometer precision. The four labels on single Fn molecules did not show a uniform or linear arrange-ment. The distances between label positions were distributed asymmetrically around 33 nm with a tail towards higher distances. Exposure of Fn to denaturing solution conditions during adsorption increased the average distances up to 43 nm for 4 M guanidinium HCl, while changing the solution conditions after the adsorption had no effect, indicating that the observed intra-molecular distances are locked-in during the adsorption process. Also surface coatings of different hydrophobicity altered the conformational distribution, shifting label distances from a median of 24 nm on hydrophilic to 49 nm on hydrophobic surfaces. These results further highlight that the conformation of macromolecules at interfaces depends on the adsorption history. While illustrated here for surface adsorbed Fn, the power of localization-based microscopy extends the repertoire of techniques to characterize biomolecules at interfaces.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: While cell-substrate adhesions that form between the protruding edge of a spreading cell and flat surfaces have been studied extensively, processes that regulate the maturation of filopodia adhesions are far less characterized. Since little is known about how the kinetics of formation or disassembly of filopodia adhesions is regulated upon integration into the lamellum, a kinetic analysis of the formation and disassembly of filopodia adhesions was conducted at the leading edge of β3-integrin-EGFP-expressing rat embryonic fibroblasts spreading on fibronectin-coated glass or on soft polyacrylamide gels. Filopodia β3-integrin adhesions matured only if the lamellipodium in their immediate vicinity showed cyclic protrusions and retractions. Filopodia β3-integrin shaft adhesions elongated rapidly when they were overrun by the advancing lamellipodium. Subsequently and once the lamellipodium stopped its advancement at the distal end of the filopodia β3-integrin adhesion, these β3-integrin shaft adhesions started to grow sidewise and colocalize with the newly assembled circumferential actin stress fibers. In contrast, the suppression of the cyclic protrusions and retractions of the lamellipodium by blocking myosin light chain kinase suppressed the growth of filopodia adhesion and resulted in the premature disassembly of filopodia adhesions. The same failure to stabilize those adhesions was found for the advancing lamellipodium that rapidly overran filopodia shaft adhesions without pausing as seen often during fast cell spreading. In turn, plating cells on soft polyacrylamide gels resulted in a reduction of lamellipodia activity, which was partially restored locally by the presence of filopodia adhesions. Thus filopodia adhesions could also mature and be integrated into the lamellum for fibroblasts on soft polyacrylamide substrates.
PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(9):e107097. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Fibronectin is a globular protein that circulates in the blood and undergoes fibrillogenesis if stretched or under other partially denaturing conditions, even in the absence of cells. Stretch assays made by pulling fibers from droplets of solutions containing high concentrations of fibronectin have previously been introduced in mechanobiology, particularly to ask how bacteria and cells exploit the stretching of fibronectin fibers within extracellular matrix to mechano-regulate its chemical display. Our electron microscopy analysis of their ultrastructure now reveals that the manually pulled fibronectin fibers are composed of densely packed lamellar spirals, whose interlamellar distances are dictated by ion-tunable electrostatic interactions. Our findings suggest that fibrillogenesis proceeds via an irreversible sheet-to-fiber transition as the fibronectin sheet formed at the air-liquid interface of the droplet is pulled off by a sharp tip. This far from equilibrium process is driven by the externally applied force, interfacial surface tension, shear-induced fibronectin self-association, and capillary force-induced buffer drainage. The ultrastructural characterization is then contrasted with previous FRET studies that characterized the molecular strain within these manually pulled fibers. Particularly relevant for stretch-dependent binding studies is the finding that the interior fiber surfaces are accessible to nanoparticles smaller than 10 nm. In summary, our study discovers the underpinning mechanism by which highly hierarchically structured fibers can be generated with unique mechanical and mechano-chemical properties, a concept that might be extended to other bio- or biomimetic polymers.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sessile bacteria adhere to engineered surfaces and host tissues and pose a substantial clinical and economical risk when growing into biofilms. Most engineered and biological interfaces are of chemically heterogeneous nature and provide adhesive islands for bacterial attachment and growth. To mimic either defects in a surface coating of biomedical implants or heterogeneities within mucosal layers (Peyer's patches), we embedded micrometre-sized adhesive islands in a poly(ethylene glycol) biopassive background. We show experimentally and computationally that filamentation of Escherichia coli can significantly accelerate the bacterial surface colonization under physiological flow conditions. Filamentation can thus provide an advantage to a bacterial population to bridge non-adhesive distances exceeding 5 μm. Bacterial filamentation, caused by blocking of bacterial division, is common among bacterial species and can be triggered by environmental conditions or antibiotic treatment. While great awareness exists that the build-up of antibiotic resistance serves as intrinsic survival strategy, we show here that antibiotic treatment can actually promote surface colonization by triggering filamentation, which in turn prevents daughter cells from being washed away. Our combined microfabrication and computational approaches provide quantitative insights into mechanisms that enable biofouling of biopassive surfaces with embedded adhesive spots, even for spot distances that are multiples of the bacterial length.
New Journal of Physics 12/2013; 15. · 4.06 Impact Factor