Systems Biology


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0 Q&A 4071 Views Dec 5, 2019
Mechanomics, the mechanics equivalent of genomics, is a burgeoning field studying mechanical modulation of stem cell behavior and lineage commitment. Analogous to mechanical testing of a living material as it adapts and evolves, mapping of the mechanome necessitates the development of new protocols to assess changes in structure and function in live stem cells as they adapt and differentiate. Previous techniques have relied on imaging of cellular structures in fixed cells and/or live cell imaging of single cells with separate studies of changes in mechanical and biological properties. Here we present two complementary protocols to study mechanobiology and mechanoadaptation of live stem cells in adherent and motile contexts. First, we developed and tested live imaging protocols for simultaneous visualization and tracking of actin and tubulin mechanoadaptation as well as shape and volume of cells and their nuclei in adherent model embryonic murine mesenchymal stem cells (C3H/10T1/2) and in a neuroblastoma cell line. Then we applied the protocol to enable quantitative study of primary human mesenchymal stem cells in a motile state, e.g., ingression in a three-dimensional, in vitro cell culture model. Together, these protocols enable study of emergent structural mechanoadaptation of the cell's own cytoskeletal machinery while tracking lineage commitment using phenotypic (quantitative morphology measures) and genotypic (e.g., reverse transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction, rtPCR) methods. These tools are expected to facilitate the mapping of the mechanome and incipient mechanistic understanding of stem cell mechanobiology, from the cellular to the tissue and organ length scales.

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