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1.  Effects of high glucose on integrin activity and fibronectin matrix assembly by mesangial cells 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2014;25(16):2342-2350.
Aberrant accumulation of collagen IV defines diabetic nephropathy. It is shown here that high glucose increases fibronectin matrix assembly by activating integrin receptors on kidney cells. Collagen IV accumulation depends on this fibronectin matrix. Targeting fibronectin matrix may be a useful therapy to stem matrix accumulation in the diabetic kidney.
The filtration unit of the kidney is the glomerulus, a capillary network supported by mesangial cells and extracellular matrix (ECM). Glomerular function is compromised in diabetic nephropathy (DN) by uncontrolled buildup of ECM, especially type IV collagen, which progressively occludes the capillaries. Increased levels of the ECM protein fibronectin (FN) are also present; however, its role in DN is unknown. Mesangial cells cultured under high glucose conditions provide a model system for studying the effect of elevated glucose on deposition of FN and collagen IV. Imaging of mesangial cell cultures and analysis of detergent-insoluble matrix show that, under high glucose conditions, mesangial cells assembled significantly more FN matrix, independent of FN protein levels. High glucose conditions induced protein kinase C–dependent β1 integrin activation, and FN assembly in normal glucose was increased by stimulation of integrin activity with Mn2+. Collagen IV incorporation into the matrix was also increased under high glucose conditions and colocalized with FN fibrils. An inhibitor of FN matrix assembly prevented collagen IV deposition, demonstrating dependence of collagen IV on FN matrix. We conclude that high glucose induces FN assembly, which contributes to collagen IV accumulation. Enhanced assembly of FN might facilitate dysregulated ECM accumulation in DN.
PMCID: PMC4142608  PMID: 24943838
2.  α integrin cytoplasmic tails have tissue-specific roles during C. elegans development 
Integrin signaling impacts many developmental processes. The complexity of these signals increases when multiple, unique integrin heterodimers are expressed during a single developmental event. Since integrin heterodimers have different signaling capabilities, the signals originating at each integrin type must be separated in the cell. C. elegans have two integrin heterodimers, α INA-1/β PAT-3 and α PAT-2/β PAT-3, which are expressed individually or simultaneously, based on tissue type. We used chimeric α integrins to assess the role of α integrin cytoplasmic tails during development. Chimeric integrin ina-1 with the pat-2 cytoplasmic tail rescued lethality and maintained neuron fasciculation in an ina-1 mutant. Interestingly, the pat-2 tail was unable to completely restore distal tip cell migration and vulva morphogenesis. Chimeric integrin pat-2 with the ina-1 cytoplasmic tail had a limited ability to rescue a lethal mutation in pat-2, with survivors showing aberrant muscle organization, yet normal distal tip cell migration. In a wild type background, α integrin pat-2 with the ina-1 cytoplasmic tail had a dominant negative effect which induced muscle disorganization, cell migration defects and lethality. These results show the α integrin cytoplasmic tails impact unique cellular behaviors that vary by tissue type during development.
PMCID: PMC4324469  PMID: 25354452
integrin; morphogenesis; distal tip cell; muscle
3.  Transcriptionally Regulated Cell Adhesion Network Dictates Distal Tip Cell Directionality 
The mechanisms that govern directional changes in cell migration are poorly understood. The migratory paths of two distal tip cells (DTC) determine the U-shape of the C. elegans hermaphroditic gonad. The morphogenesis of this organ provides a model system to identify genes necessary for the DTCs to execute two stereotyped turns.
Using candidate genes for RNAi knockdown in a DTC-specific strain, we identified two transcriptional regulators required for DTC turning: cbp-1, the CBP/p300 transcriptional coactivator homologue, and let-607, a CREBH transcription factor homologue. Further screening of potential target genes uncovered a network of integrin adhesion-related genes that have roles in turning and are dependent on cbp-1 and let-607 for expression. These genes include src-1/Src kinase, tln-1/talin, pat-2/α integrin and nmy-2, a nonmuscle myosin heavy chain.
Transcriptional regulation by means of cbp-1 and let-607 is crucial for determining directional changes during DTC migration. These regulators coordinate a gene network that is necessary for integrin-mediated adhesion. Overall, these results suggest that directional changes in cell migration rely on the precise gene regulation of adhesion.
PMCID: PMC4321954  PMID: 24811939
cell migration; distal tip cell; C. elegans; hermaphrodite gonadogenesis; integrin
5.  Defined Extracellular Matrix Components are Necessary for Definitive Endoderm Induction 
Stem cells (Dayton, Ohio)  2013;31(10):10.1002/stem.1453.
Differentiation methods often rely exclusively on growth factors to direct mouse embryonic stem cell (ESC) fate, but the niche also contains fibrillar extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins, including fibronectin (FN) and laminin, which could also direct cell fate. Soluble differentiation factors are known to increase ECM expression, yet ECM's ability to direct ESC fate is not well understood. To address the extent to which these proteins regulate differentiation when assembled into a matrix, we examined mouse ESC embryoid bodies and found that their ability to maintain pluripotency marker expression was impaired by soluble serum FN. Embryoid bodies also showed a spatiotemporal correlation between expression of FN and GATA4, a marker of definitive endoderm (DE), and an inverse correlation between FN and Nanog, a pluripotency marker. Maintenance of mouse ESC pluripotency prevented fibrillar matrix production, but induction medium created lineage-specific ECM containing varying amounts of FN and laminin. Mouse ESC-derived matrix was unlike conventional fibroblast-derived matrix, which did not contain laminin. Naïve mouse ESCs plated onto ESC- and fibroblast-derived matrix exhibited composition-specific differentiation. With exogenously added laminin, fibroblast-derived matrix is more similar in composition to mouse ESC-derived matrix and lacks residual growth factors that mouse ESC matrix may contain. Naïve mouse ESCs in DE induction medium exhibited dose-dependent DE differentiation as a function of the amount of exogenous laminin in the matrix in an α3 integrin-dependent mechanism. These data imply that fibrillar FN is necessary for loss of pluripotency and that laminin within a FN matrix improves DE differentiation.
PMCID: PMC3812380  PMID: 23766144
mouse embryonic stem cells; extracellular matrix; integrin signaling; endoderm development
6.  Mammary epithelial cell interactions with fibronectin stimulate epithelial-mesenchymal transition 
Oncogene  2013;33(13):1649-1657.
In the mammary gland, the stromal extracellular matrix (ECM) undergoes dramatic changes during development and in tumorigenesis. For example, normal adult breast tissue is largely devoid of the ECM protein fibronectin (FN) whereas high FN levels have been detected in the stroma of breast tumors. FN is an established marker for epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), which occurs during development and has been linked to cancer. During EMT, epithelial cell adhesion switches from cell-cell contacts to mainly cell-ECM interactions raising the possibility that FN may have a role in promoting this transition. Using MCF-10A mammary epithelial cells, we show that exposure to exogenous FN induces an EMT response including up-regulation of the EMT markers FN, Snail, N-cadherin, vimentin, the matrix metalloprotease MMP2, α-smooth muscle actin, and phospho-Smad2 as well as acquisition of cell migratory behavior. FN-induced EMT depends on Src kinase and ERK/MAP kinase signaling but not on the immediate early gene EGR-1. FN initiates EMT under serum-free conditions; this response is partially reversed by a TGFβ neutralizing antibody suggesting that FN enhances the effect of endogenous TGFβ. EMT marker expression is up-regulated in cells on a fragment of FN containing the integrin-binding domain but not other domains. Differences in gene expression between FN and MG are maintained with addition of a sub-threshold level of TGFβ1. Together, these results show that cells interacting with FN are primed to respond to TGFβ. The ability of FN to induce EMT shows an active role for the stromal ECM in this process and supports the notion that the increased levels of FN observed in breast tumors facilitate tumorigenesis.
PMCID: PMC3934944  PMID: 23624917
fibronectin; EMT; MCF-10A cells; breast cancer; TGFβ
7.  A Simple Nanoscale Interface Directs Alignment of a Confluent Cell Layer on Oxide and Polymer Surfaces 
Templating of cell spreading and proliferation is described that yields confluent layers of cells aligned across an entire two-dimensional surface. The template is a reactive, two-component interface that is synthesized in three steps in nanometer thick, micron-scaled patterns on silicon and on several biomaterial polymers. In this method, a volatile zirconium alkoxide complex is first deposited at reduced pressure onto a surface pattern that is prepared by photolithography; the substrate is then heated to thermolyze the organic ligands to form surface-bound zirconium oxide patterns. The thickness of this oxide layer ranges from 10 to 70 nanometers, which is controlled by alkoxide complex deposition time. The oxide layer is treated with 1,4-butanediphosphonic acid to give a monolayer pattern whose composition and spatial conformity to the photolithographic mask are determined spectroscopically. NIH 3T3 fibroblasts and human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells attach and spread in alignment with the pattern without constraint by physical means or by arrays of cytophilic and cytophobic molecules. Cell alignment with the pattern is maintained as cells grow to form a confluent monolayer across the entire substrate surface.
PMCID: PMC3735232  PMID: 23936630
8.  Functional Characterization of KIN-32, the Caenorhabditis elegans Homolog of Focal Adhesion Kinase 
We have identified the single Caenorhabditis elegans focal adhesion kinase (FAK) homolog KIN-32, which has the signature FAK structure including an N-terminal Four.1-Ezrin-Radixin-Moesin (FERM) domain followed by a tyrosine kinase domain and a C-terminal domain with weak homology to the focal adhesion targeting domain. The functional requirements for KIN-32 were examined using RNA interference depletion experiments and analysis of a deletion allele, kin-32(ok166), in which a large segment of the FERM domain is missing. Our results show that reduced levels of expression or absence of the FERM domain do not affect viability, fertility, or anatomy in C. elegans. Expression of an analogous FERM deletion in mouse FAK showed kinase activity in vitro and supported normal focal adhesion localization in cell culture. Thus, the FERM domain of KIN-32, and possibly KIN-32 activity in general, appears to be dispensable for normal C. elegans physiology.
PMCID: PMC3937857  PMID: 18297732
FERM; kinase; nematode; RNAi; FAK
9.  Reversible Modulation of Myofibroblast Differentiation in Adipose-Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e86865.
Unregulated activity of myofibroblasts, highly contractile cells that deposit abundant extracellular matrix (ECM), leads to fibrosis. To study the modulation of myofibroblast activity, we used human adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells (ADSCs), which have much potential in regenerative medicine. We found that ADSCs treated with TGF-β developed a myofibroblastic phenotype with increases in α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA), a myofibroblast marker, and ECM proteins type I collagen and fibronectin. In contrast, treatment with bFGF had the opposite effect. bFGF-differentiated ADSCs showed marked down-regulation of α-SMA expression, collagen I, and fibronectin, and loss of focal adhesions and stress fibers. Functionally, bFGF-differentiated ADSCs were significantly more migratory, which correlated with up-regulation of tenascin-C, an anti-adhesive ECM protein, and vimentin, a pro-migratory cytoskeletal protein. On the other hand, TGF-β-differentiated ADSCs were significantly more contractile than bFGF-differentiated cells. Interestingly, cells completely reversed their morphologies, marker expression, signaling pathways, and contractility versus migratory profiles when switched from culture with one growth factor to the other, demonstrating that the myofibroblast differentiation process is not terminal. Cell differentiation was associated with activation of Smad2 downstream of TGF-β and of ERK/MAP kinase downstream of bFGF. Reversibility of the TGF-β-induced myofibroblastic phenotype depends, in part, on bFGF-induced ERK/MAP kinase signaling. These findings show that ADSC differentiation into myofibroblasts and re-differentiation into fibroblast-like cells can be manipulated with growth factors, which may have implications in the development of novel therapeutic strategies to reduce the risk of fibrosis.
PMCID: PMC3900664  PMID: 24466271
10.  Endogenous production of fibronectin is required for self-renewal of cultured mouse embryonic stem cells 
Experimental cell research  2012;318(15):1820-1831.
Pluripotent cells are attached to the extracellular matrix (ECM) as they make cell fate decisions within the stem cell niche. Here we show that the ubiquitous ECM protein fibronectin is required for self-renewal decisions by cultured mouse embryonic stem (mES) cells. Undifferentiated mES cells produce fibronectin and assemble a fibrillar matrix. Increasing the level of substrate fibronectin increased cell spreading and integrin receptor signaling through focal adhesion kinase, while concomitantly inducing the loss of Nanog and Oct4 self-renewal markers. Conversely, reducing fibronectin production by mES cells growing on a feeder-free gelatin substrate caused loss of cell adhesion, decreased integrin signaling, and decreased expression of self-renewal markers. These effects were reversed by providing the cells with exogenous fibronectin, thereby restoring adhesion to the gelatin substrate. Interestingly, mES cells do not adhere directly to the gelatin substrate, but rather adhere indirectly through gelatin-bound fibronectin, which facilitates self-renewal via its effects on cell adhesion. These results provide new insights into the mechanism of regulation of self-renewal by growth on a gelatin-coated surface. The effects of increasing or decreasing fibronectin levels show that self-renewal depends on an intermediate level of cell-fibronectin interactions. By providing cell adhesive signals that can act with other self-renewal factors to maintain mES cell pluripotency, fibronectin is therefore a necessary component of the self-renewal signaling pathway in culture.
PMCID: PMC3582329  PMID: 22710062
extracellular matrix; fibronectin; integrin; self-renewal; embryonic stem cell
11.  mig-38, a novel gene that regulates distal tip cell turning during gonadogenesis in C. elegans hermaphrodites 
Developmental biology  2012;368(2):404-414.
In Caenorhabditis elegans gonad morphogenesis, the final U-shapes of the two hermaphrodite gonad arms are determined by migration of the distal tip cells (DTCs). These somatic cells migrate in opposite directions on the ventral basement membrane until specific extracellular cues induce turning from ventral to dorsal and then centripetally toward the midbody region on the dorsal basement membrane. To dissect the mechanism of DTC turning, we examined the role of a novel gene, F40F11.2/mig-38, whose depletion by RNAi results in failure of DTC turning so that DTCs continue their migration away from the midbody region. mig-38 is expressed in the gonad primordium, and expression continues throughout DTC migration where it acts cell-autonomously to control DTC turning. RNAi depletion of both mig-38 and ina-1, which encodes an integrin adhesion receptor, enhanced the loss of turning phenotype indicating a genetic interaction between these genes. Furthermore, the integrin-associated protein MIG-15/Nck-interacting kinase (NIK) works with MIG-38 to direct DTC turning as shown by mig-38 RNAi with the mig-15(rh80) hypomorph. These results indicate that MIG-38 enhances the role of MIG-15 in integrin-dependent DTC turning. Knockdown of talin, a protein that is important for integrin activation, causes the DTCs to stop migration prematurely. When both talin and MIG-38 were depleted by RNAi treatment, the premature stop phenotype was suppressed. This suppression effect was reversed upon additional depletion of MIG-15 or its binding partner NCK-1. These results suggest that both talin and the MIG-15/NCK-1 complex promote DTC motility and that MIG-38 may act as a negative regulator of the complex. We propose a model to explain the dual role of MIG-38 in motility and turning.
PMCID: PMC3697129  PMID: 22732572
Cell migration; Distal tip cell; C. elegans; Hermaphrodite gonadogenesis; mig-38; Integrin
12.  Temporal and spatial regulation of integrins during development 
Current opinion in cell biology  2008;20(5):520-524.
Integrin receptors for extracellular matrix (ECM) are critical determinants of biological processes. Regulation of integrin expression is one way for cells to respond to changes in the ECM, to integrate intracellular signals, and to obtain appropriate adhesion for cell motility, proliferation, and differentiation. Transcriptional and post-translational mechanisms for changing the integrin repertoire at the cell surface have recently been described. These mechanisms work through transcriptional regulation that alters the proportions of one integrin relative to another, referred to as integrin switching, or through localized regulation of integrin-ECM interactions, thus providing exquisite control over cell rearrangements during tissue morphogenesis and remodeling. These integrin regulatory pathways may also be important targets in such emerging fields as tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.
PMCID: PMC2572561  PMID: 18603422
13.  Fibronectin Expression Modulates Mammary Epithelial Cell Proliferation during Acinar Differentiation 
Cancer research  2008;68(9):3185-3192.
The mammary gland consists of a polarized epithelium surrounded by a basement membrane matrix that forms a series of branching ducts ending in hollow, sphere-like acini. Essential roles for the epithelial basement membrane during acinar differentiation, in particular laminin and its integrin receptors, have been identified using mammary epithelial cells cultured on a reconstituted basement membrane. Contributions from fibronectin, which is abundant in the mammary gland during development and tumorigenesis, have not been fully examined. Here, we show that fibronectin expression by mammary epithelial cells is dynamically regulated during the morphogenic process. Experiments with synthetic polyacrylamide gel substrates implicate both specific extracellular matrix components, including fibronectin itself, and matrix rigidity in this regulation. Alterations in fibronectin levels perturbed acinar organization. During acinar development, increased fibronectin levels resulted in overproliferation of mammary epithelial cells and increased acinar size. Addition of fibronectin to differentiated acini stimulated proliferation and reversed growth arrest of mammary epithelial cells negatively affecting maintenance of proper acinar morphology. These results show that expression of fibronectin creates a permissive environment for cell growth that antagonizes the differentiation signals from the basement membrane. These effects suggest a link between fibronectin expression and epithelial cell growth during development and oncogenesis in the mammary gland.
PMCID: PMC2748963  PMID: 18451144
14.  Fibronectins, Their Fibrillogenesis, and In Vivo Functions 
Fibronectin (FN) is a multidomain protein with the ability to bind simultaneously to cell surface receptors, collagen, proteoglycans, and other FN molecules. Many of these domains and interactions are also involved in the assembly of FN dimers into a multimeric fibrillar matrix. When, where, and how FN binds to its various partners must be controlled and coordinated during fibrillogenesis. Steps in the process of FN fibrillogenesis including FN self-association, receptor activities, and intracellular pathways have been under intense investigation for years. In this review, the domain organization of FN including the extra domains and variable region that are controlled by alternative splicing are described. We discuss how FN–FN and cell–FN interactions play essential roles in the initiation and progression of matrix assembly using complementary results from cell culture and embryonic model systems that have enhanced our understanding of this process.
Formation of fibrillar fibronectin matrices involves interactions with cell surface integrins that induce fibronectin conformational changes required for self-association. Cell culture and embryonic model systems have provided key insights into the mechanisms that initiate and regulate the fibronectin assembly process.
PMCID: PMC3119908  PMID: 21576254
15.  Assembly of Fibronectin Extracellular Matrix 
In the process of matrix assembly, multivalent extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins are induced to self-associate and to interact with other ECM proteins to form fibrillar networks. Matrix assembly is usually initiated by ECM glycoproteins binding to cell surface receptors, such as fibronectin (FN) dimers binding to α5β1 integrin. Receptor binding stimulates FN self-association mediated by the N-terminal assembly domain and organizes the actin cytoskeleton to promote cell contractility. FN conformational changes expose additional binding sites that participate in fibril formation and in conversion of fibrils into a stabilized, insoluble form. Once assembled, the FN matrix impacts tissue organization by contributing to the assembly of other ECM proteins. Here, we describe the major steps, molecular interactions, and cellular mechanisms involved in assembling FN dimers into fibrillar matrix while highlighting important issues and major questions that require further investigation.
PMCID: PMC3628685  PMID: 20690820
integrins; conformational change; insolubility; fibrillar; type I collagen; microfibrils
16.  Requirements for sulfate transport and the diastrophic dysplasia sulfate transporter in fibronectin matrix assembly 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2007;179(5):999-1009.
Diastrophic dysplasia sulfate transporter (DTDST) is a sulfate/chloride antiporter whose function is impaired in several human chondrodysplasias. We show that DTDST is upregulated by dexamethasone stimulation of HT1080 fibrosarcoma cells and is required for fibronectin (FN) extracellular matrix deposition by these cells. DTDST imports sulfate for the modification of glycosaminoglycans. We find that N-sulfation of these chains is important for FN matrix assembly and that sulfation of cell surface proteoglycans is reduced in the absence of DTDST. Of the candidate HT1080 cell surface proteoglycans, only loss of syndecan-2 compromises FN assembly, as shown by syndecan-2 small interfering RNA knockdown. DTDST is both necessary and sufficient to induce FN matrix assembly in HT1080 cells. Knockdown of DTDST ablates FN matrix, whereas its overexpression increases assembly without dexamethasone stimulation. These results identify a previously unrecognized regulatory pathway for matrix assembly via modulation of a sulfate transporter and proteoglycan sulfation. These data raise the possibility that FN assembly defects contribute to chondrodysplasias.
PMCID: PMC2099202  PMID: 18056413
17.  Gonad morphogenesis and distal tip cell migration in the Caenorhabditis elegans hermaphrodite 
Cell migration and morphogenesis are key events in tissue development and organogenesis. In Caenorhabditis elegans, the migratory path of the distal tip cells determines the morphology of the hermaphroditic gonad. The distal tip cells undergo a series of migratory phases interspersed with turns to form the gonad. A wide variety of genes have been identified as crucial to this process, from genes that encode components and modifiers of the extracellular matrix to signaling proteins and transcriptional regulators. The connections between extracellular and transmembrane protein functions and intracellular pathways are essential for distal tip cell migration, and the integration of this information governs gonad morphogenesis and determines gonad size and shape.
PMCID: PMC3614366  PMID: 23559979
18.  Analysis of Cell Migration Using Caenorhabditis elegans as a Model System 
The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is an excellent model system in which to study long-distance cell migration in vivo. This chapter describes methods used to study a subset of migratory cells in the hermaphrodite nematode, the distal tip cells. These methods take advantage of the organism’s transparent body and the expression of green fluorescent protein to observe cell migration and behavior. Additionally, the availability of nematode mutants and gene knockdown techniques that affect cell migration allow the analysis and comparison of wild-type and aberrant migratory paths. Methods for nematode growth and maintenance, strain acquisition, observation and live imaging, gene knockdown, and analysis of cell migration defects are covered.
PMCID: PMC3601446  PMID: 21748680
C. elegans; Cell migration; Mutants; RNAi; Distal tip cells; Live imaging; Green fluorescent protein
19.  Fibronectins, Their Fibrillogenesis, and In Vivo Functions 
Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in biology  2011;3(7):10.1101/cshperspect.a005041 a005041.
Fibronectin (FN) is a multidomain protein with the ability to bind simultaneously to cell surface receptors, collagen, proteoglycans, and other FN molecules. Many of these domains and interactions are also involved in the assembly of FN dimers into a multimeric fibrillar matrix. When, where, and how FN binds to its various partners must be controlled and coordinated during fibrillogenesis. Steps in the process of FN fibrillogenesis including FN self-association, receptor activities, and intracellular pathways have been under intense investigation for years. In this review, the domain organization of FN including the extra domains and variable region that are controlled by alternative splicing are described. We discuss how FN–FN and cell–FN interactions play essential roles in the initiation and progression of matrix assembly using complementary results from cell culture and embryonic model systems that have enhanced our understanding of this process.
PMCID: PMC3119908  PMID: 21576254
20.  A novel fibronectin binding site required for fibronectin fibril growth during matrix assembly 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2001;154(5):1081-1088.
Fibronectin (FN) assembly into a fibrillar extracellular matrix is a stepwise process requiring participation from multiple FN domains. Fibril formation is regulated in part by segments within the first seven type III repeats (III1–7). To define the specific function(s) of this region, recombinant FNs (recFNs) containing an overlapping set of deletions were tested for the ability to assemble into fibrils. Surprisingly, recFN lacking type III repeat III1 (FNΔIII1), which contains a cryptic FN binding site and has been suggested to be essential for fibril assembly, formed a matrix identical in all respects to a native FN matrix. Similarly, displacement of the cell binding domain in repeats III9–10 to a position close to the NH2-terminal assembly domain, as well as a large deletion spanning repeats III4–7, had no effect on assembly. In contrast, two deletions that included repeat III2, ΔIII1–2 and ΔIII2–5, caused significant reductions in fibril elongation, although binding of FN to the cell surface and initiation of assembly still proceeded. Using individual repeats in binding assays, we show that III2 but not III1 contains an FN binding site. Thus, these results pinpoint repeat III2 as an important module for FN–FN interactions during fibril growth.
PMCID: PMC2196193  PMID: 11535624
fibronectin; matrix assembly; type III repeats; RGD sequence; self-association
21.  Nanomaterials can Dynamically Steer Cell Responses to Biological Ligands 
Traditional tissue regeneration approaches to activate cell behaviours on biomaterials rely on the use of extracellular matrix based or soluble growth factor cues. In this article, we highlight a novel approach to dynamically steer cellular phenomena such as cell motility based on nanoscale substratum features of biological ligands. Albumin derived nanocarriers (ANCs) of variable nanoscale size features were functionalized with fibronectin III9–10 matrix ligand and effects on primary human keratinocyte activation were investigated. The display of fibronectin fragment from ANCs significantly enhanced cell migration compared to free ligands at equivalent concentrations. Notably, cell migration was influenced by the size of underlying ANCs even for variably sized ANCs presenting comparable levels of fibronectin fragment. For equivalent ligand concentrations, cell migration on the smaller-sized ANCs (30 nm and 50 nm) was significantly more enhanced compared to that on larger-sized ANCs (75 nm and 100 nm). In contrast, the enhancement of cell migration on nanocarriers was abolished by the use of immobilized biofunctionalized ANCs, indicating that “dynamic” nanocarrier internalization events underlie the role of nanocarrier geometry on the differential regulation of cell migration kinetics. Uptake studies using fluorescent ANCs indicated that larger-sized ANCs showed delayed endocytic kinetics and hence could present barriers for internalization during the cell adhesion and motility processes. Motile cells exhibited diminished migration upon exposure to clathrin-inhibitors, but not caveolin-inhibitors, suggesting the role of clathrin-mediated endocytosis in facilitating cell migratory responsiveness to the nanocarriers. Overall, a monotonic relationship was found between the degree of nanocarrier cytointernalization rate and cell migration rate, suggesting the possibility of designing biointerfacial features for dynamic control of cell migration. Thus, the major findings of this study are that (a) the presentation of a biorelevant ligand on a mobile nanocarrier can be used to sensitize cellular motility activation to the adhesion ligands; and (b) such nanocarrier interfaces can dynamically attune cell migration kinetics by “modulating” the uptake of the ligand-nanocarrier complex via nanocarrier size.
PMCID: PMC3335745  PMID: 21213389
nanocomposites; cell motility; nanobiotechnology; biological interfaces
22.  A Shared Mechanism of Adhesion Modulation for Tenascin-C and Fibulin-1 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2009;20(4):1141-1149.
Adhesion modulatory proteins are important effectors of cell–matrix interactions during tissue remodeling and regeneration. They comprise a diverse group of matricellular proteins that confer antiadhesive properties to the extracellular matrix (ECM). We compared the inhibitory effects of two adhesion modulatory proteins, fibulin-1 and tenascin-C, both of which bind to the C-terminal heparin-binding (HepII) domain of fibronectin (FN) but are structurally distinct. Here, we report that, like tenascin-C, fibulin-1 inhibits fibroblast spreading and cell-mediated contraction of a fibrin–FN matrix. These proteins act by modulation of focal adhesion kinase and extracellular signal-regulated kinase signaling. The inhibitory effects were bypassed by lysophosphatidic acid, an activator of RhoA GTPase. Fibroblast response to fibulin-1, similar to tenascin-C, was dependent on expression of the heparan sulfate proteoglycan syndecan-4, which also binds to the HepII domain. Therefore, blockade of HepII-mediated signaling by competitive binding of fibulin-1 or tenascin-C represents a shared mechanism of adhesion modulation among disparate modulatory proteins.
PMCID: PMC2642747  PMID: 19109427
Zirconium tetra(tert-butoxide) reacts with surface amide groups of polyamide nylon 6/6 to give (η2-amidate)zirconium complexes in high yield. These surface complexes react to bond the cell-adhesive peptide arginine-glycine-aspartic acid (RGD) to the polymer surface. A surface loading of 0.18 nmol/cm2 of RGD is achieved, which is 20−1000 times higher than previously reported attainable on natural or synthetic polymers by other strategies. Approximately 40% of the nylon surface is covered by the RGD which gives a surface that is both stable to hydrolysis and highly active for cell adhesion and spreading in vitro.
PMCID: PMC2569827  PMID: 17199287
24.  Coregulation of Fibronectin Signaling and Matrix Contraction by Tenascin-C and Syndecan-4 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2004;15(12):5670-5677.
Syndecan-4 is a ubiquitously expressed heparan sulfate proteoglycan that modulates cell interactions with the extracellular matrix. It is transiently up-regulated during tissue repair by cells that mediate wound healing. Here, we report that syndecan-4 is essential for optimal fibroblast response to the three-dimensional fibrin-fibronectin provisional matrix that is deposited upon tissue injury. Interference with syndecan-4 function inhibits matrix contraction by preventing cell spreading, actin stress fiber formation, and activation of focal adhesion kinase and RhoA mediated-intracellular signaling pathways. Tenascin-C is an extracellular matrix protein that regulates cell response to fibronectin within the provisional matrix. Syndecan-4 is also required for tenascin-C action. Inhibition of syndecan-4 function suppresses tenascin-C activity and overexpression of syndecan-4 circumvents the effects of tenascin-C. In this way, tenascin-C and syndecan-4 work together to control fibroblast morphology and signaling and regulate events such as matrix contraction that are essential for efficient tissue repair.
PMCID: PMC532045  PMID: 15483051
25.  Book Review: Well Worth the Weight! 
Cell Biology Education  2003;2:16-17.
PMCID: PMC152787

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