Mechanical cell-matrix feedback explains pairwise and collective endothelial cell behavior in vitro.
ABSTRACT: In vitro cultures of endothelial cells are a widely used model system of the collective behavior of endothelial cells during vasculogenesis and angiogenesis. When seeded in an extracellular matrix, endothelial cells can form blood vessel-like structures, including vascular networks and sprouts. Endothelial morphogenesis depends on a large number of chemical and mechanical factors, including the compliancy of the extracellular matrix, the available growth factors, the adhesion of cells to the extracellular matrix, cell-cell signaling, etc. Although various computational models have been proposed to explain the role of each of these biochemical and biomechanical effects, the understanding of the mechanisms underlying in vitro angiogenesis is still incomplete. Most explanations focus on predicting the whole vascular network or sprout from the underlying cell behavior, and do not check if the same model also correctly captures the intermediate scale: the pairwise cell-cell interactions or single cell responses to ECM mechanics. Here we show, using a hybrid cellular Potts and finite element computational model, that a single set of biologically plausible rules describing (a) the contractile forces that endothelial cells exert on the ECM, (b) the resulting strains in the extracellular matrix, and (c) the cellular response to the strains, suffices for reproducing the behavior of individual endothelial cells and the interactions of endothelial cell pairs in compliant matrices. With the same set of rules, the model also reproduces network formation from scattered cells, and sprouting from endothelial spheroids. Combining the present mechanical model with aspects of previously proposed mechanical and chemical models may lead to a more complete understanding of in vitro angiogenesis.
Project description:Tumor angiogenesis promotes tumor growth and metastasis. Here, we use automated sequential microprinting of tumor and endothelial cells in extracellular matrix (ECM) scaffolds to study its mechanical aspects. Quantitative reflection microscopy shows that tumor spheroids induce radial orientation of the surrounding collagen fiber network up to a distance of five times their radius. Across a panel of ~20 different human tumor cell lines, remote collagen orientation is correlated with local tumor cell migration behavior. Tumor induced collagen orientation requires contractility but is remarkably resistant to depletion of collagen-binding integrins. Microvascular endothelial cells undergo directional migration towards tumor spheroids once they are within the tumor-oriented collagen fiber network. Laser ablation experiments indicate that an intact physical connection of the oriented network with the tumor spheroid is required for mechanical sensing by the endothelial cells. Together our findings indicate that, in conjunction with described activities of soluble angiogenic factors, remote physical manipulation of the ECM network by the tumor can help to steer angiogenesis.
Project description:Angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis are highly complex morphogenetic processes, central to many physiological and pathological conditions, including development, cancer metastasis, inflammation and wound healing. While it is described that extracellular matrix (ECM) fibers are involved in the spatiotemporal regulation of angiogenesis, current angiogenesis assays are not specifically designed to dissect and quantify the underlying molecular mechanisms of how the fibrillar nature of ECM regulates vessel sprouting. Even less is known about the role of the fibrillar ECM during the early stages of lymphangiogenesis. To address such questions, we introduced here an in vitro (lymph)angiogenesis assay, where we used microbeads coated with endothelial cells as simple sprouting sources and deposited them on single Fn fibers used as substrates to mimic fibrillar ECM. The fibers were deposited on a transparent substrate, suitable for live microscopic observation of the ensuing cell outgrowth events at the single cell level. Our proof-of-concept studies revealed that fibrillar Fn, compared to Fn-coated surfaces, provides far stronger sprouting and guidance cues to endothelial cells, independent of the tested mechanical strains of the Fn fibers. Additionally, we found that VEGF-A, but not VEGF-C, stimulates the collective outgrowth of lymphatic endothelial cells (LEC), while the collective outgrowth of blood vascular endothelial cells (HUVEC) was prominent even in the absence of these angiogenic factors. In addition to the findings presented here, the modularity of our assay allows for the use of different ECM or synthetic fibers as substrates, as well as of other cell types, thus expanding the range of applications in vascular biology and beyond.
Project description:Experimental tools to model cell-tissue interactions will likely lead to new ways to both understand and treat cancer. While the mechanical properties and regulation of invasion have been recently studied for tumor cells, they have received less attention in the context of tumor vascular dynamics. In this article, we have investigated the interaction between the surfaces of structures encountered by endothelial cells invading their surrounding extracellular matrix (ECM) during angiogenesis. For this purpose, we have fabricated round and sharp geometries with various curvature and sharpness indices in collagen hydrogel over a wide range of stiffness to mimic different microenvironments varying from normal to tumor tissues. We have then cultured endothelial cells on these structures to investigate the bi-directional interaction between the cells and ECM. We have observed that cell invasion frequency is higher from the structures with the highest sharpness and curvature index, while interestingly the dependence of invasion on the local micro-geometry is strongest for the highest density matrices. Notably, structures with the highest invasion length are linked with higher deformation of side structures, which may be related to traction force-activated signaling suggesting further investigation. We have noted that round structures are more favorable for cell adhesion and in some cases round structures drive cell invasion faster than sharp ones. These results highlight the ability of endothelial cells to sense small variations in ECM geometry, and respond with a balance of matrix invasion as well as deformation, with potential implications for feedback mechanisms that may enhance vascular abnormality in response to tumor-induced ECM alterations.
Project description:During angiogenesis, new blood vessels sprout and grow from existing ones. This process plays a crucial role in organ development and repair, in wound healing and in numerous pathological processes such as cancer progression or diabetes. Here, we present a mathematical model of early stage angiogenesis that permits exploration of the relative importance of mechanical, chemical and cellular cues. Endothelial cells proliferate and move over an extracellular matrix by following external gradients of Vessel Endothelial Growth Factor, adhesion and stiffness, which are incorporated to a Cellular Potts model with a finite element description of elasticity. The dynamics of Notch signaling involving Delta-4 and Jagged-1 ligands determines tip cell selection and vessel branching. Through their production rates, competing Jagged-Notch and Delta-Notch dynamics determine the influence of lateral inhibition and lateral induction on the selection of cellular phenotypes, branching of blood vessels, anastomosis (fusion of blood vessels) and angiogenesis velocity. Anastomosis may be favored or impeded depending on the mechanical configuration of strain vectors in the ECM near tip cells. Numerical simulations demonstrate that increasing Jagged production results in pathological vasculatures with thinner and more abundant vessels, which can be compensated by augmenting the production of Delta ligands.
Project description:Angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels sprouting from existing ones, occurs in several situations like wound healing, tissue remodeling, and near growing tumors. Under hypoxic conditions, tumor cells secrete growth factors, including VEGF. VEGF activates endothelial cells (ECs) in nearby vessels, leading to the migration of ECs out of the vessel and the formation of growing sprouts. A key process in angiogenesis is cellular self-organization, and previous modeling studies have identified mechanisms for producing networks and sprouts. Most theoretical studies of cellular self-organization during angiogenesis have ignored the interactions of ECs with the extra-cellular matrix (ECM), the jelly or hard materials that cells live in. Apart from providing structural support to cells, the ECM may play a key role in the coordination of cellular motility during angiogenesis. For example, by modifying the ECM, ECs can affect the motility of other ECs, long after they have left. Here, we present an explorative study of the cellular self-organization resulting from such ECM-coordinated cell migration. We show that a set of biologically-motivated, cell behavioral rules, including chemotaxis, haptotaxis, haptokinesis, and ECM-guided proliferation suffice for forming sprouts and branching vascular trees.
Project description:Pancreatic cancer cell invasion, metastasis, and angiogenesis are major challenges for the development of novel therapeutic strategies. Protein kinase D (PKD) isoforms are involved in controlling tumor cell motility, angiogenesis, and metastasis. In particular PKD2 expression is up-regulated in pancreatic cancer, whereas PKD1 expression is lowered. We report that both kinases control pancreatic cancer cell invasive properties in an isoform-specific manner. PKD2 enhances invasion in three-dimensional extracellular matrix (3D-ECM) cultures by stimulating expression and secretion of matrix metalloproteinases 7 and 9 (MMP7/9), by which MMP7 is likely to act upstream of MMP9. Knockdown of MMP7/9 blocks PKD2-mediated invasion in 3D-ECM assays and in vivo using tumors growing on chorioallantois membranes. Furthermore, MMP9 enhances PKD2-mediated tumor angiogenesis by releasing extracellular matrix-bound vascular endothelial growth factor A, increasing its bioavailability and angiogenesis. Of interest, specific knockdown of PKD1 in PKD2-expressing pancreatic cancer cells further enhanced the invasive properties in 3D-ECM systems by generating a high-motility phenotype. Loss of PKD1 thus may be beneficial for tumor cells to enhance their matrix-invading abilities. In conclusion, we define for the first time PKD1 and 2 isoform-selective effects on pancreatic cancer cell invasion and angiogenesis, in vitro and in vivo, addressing PKD isoform specificity as a major factor for future therapeutic strategies.
Project description:Angiogenesis promotes tumor growth and metastasis. Cell adhesion molecules interact with the extracellular matrix (ECM) and increase cell adhesion and migration during angiogenesis. Thrombomodulin (TM) is a cell surface transmembrane glycoprotein expressed in endothelial cells. However, the function and significance of TM in cell-matrix interactions and angiogenesis remain unclear. Here, we first demonstrated that recombinant lectin-like domain of TM interacts with an ECM protein, fibronectin, and identified the N-terminal 70-kDa domain of fibronectin as the TM-binding site. Exogenous expression of TM in TM-deficient A2058 melanoma cells enhanced cell adhesion and migration on fibronectin and invasion on Matrigel. In addition, TM increased focal adhesion kinase (FAK) phosphorylation and matrix metalloproteinase-9 production. In mice bearing subcutaneous B16F10 melanoma tumors, immunofluorescence analysis indicated that TM was highly expressed and co-localized with fibronectin on the tumor vasculature. The interaction between TM and fibronectin in tumor blood vessels was also validated by the proximity ligation assay. In human umbilical vein endothelial cells, up-regulation of TM by vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a tumor angiogenic factor, promoted cell adhesion and tube formation, whereas TM knockdown by RNA interference attenuated VEGF-induced cell adhesion and tube formation. In summary, TM promotes angiogenesis by enhancing cell adhesion, migration, and FAK activation through interaction with fibronectin. TM may represent a novel target for inhibiting tumor angiogenesis.
Project description:Angiogenesis is regulated by the local microenvironment, including the mechanical interactions between neovessel sprouts and the extracellular matrix (ECM). However, the mechanisms controlling the relationship of mechanical and biophysical properties of the ECM to neovessel growth during sprouting angiogenesis are just beginning to be understood. In this research, we characterized the relationship between matrix density and microvascular topology in an in vitro 3D organ culture model of sprouting angiogenesis. We used these results to design and calibrate a computational growth model to demonstrate how changes in individual neovessel behavior produce the changes in vascular topology that were observed experimentally. Vascularized gels with higher collagen densities produced neovasculatures with shorter vessel lengths, less branch points, and reduced network interconnectivity. The computational model was able to predict these experimental results by scaling the rates of neovessel growth and branching according to local matrix density. As a final demonstration of utility of the modeling framework, we used our growth model to predict several scenarios of practical interest that could not be investigated experimentally using the organ culture model. Increasing the density of the ECM significantly reduced angiogenesis and network formation within a 3D organ culture model of angiogenesis. Increasing the density of the matrix increases the stiffness of the ECM, changing how neovessels are able to deform and remodel their surroundings. The computational framework outlined in this study was capable of predicting this observed experimental behavior by adjusting neovessel growth rate and branching probability according to local ECM density, demonstrating that altering the stiffness of the ECM via increasing matrix density affects neovessel behavior, thereby regulated vascular topology during angiogenesis.
Project description:A key feature of angiogenesis is directional control of endothelial cell (EC) morphogenesis and movement . During angiogenic sprouting, endothelial "tip cells" directionally branch from existing vessels in response to biochemical cues such as VEGF or hypoxia and migrate and invade the surrounding extracellular matrix (ECM) in a process that requires ECM remodeling by matrix metalloproteases (MMPs) [2-4]. Tip EC branching is mediated by directional protrusion of subcellular pseudopodial branches [5, 6]. Here, we seek to understand how EC pseudopodial branching is locally regulated to directionally guide angiogenesis. We develop an in vitro 3D EC model system in which migrating ECs display branched pseudopodia morphodynamics similar to those in living zebrafish. Using this system, we find that ECM stiffness and ROCK-mediated myosin II activity inhibit EC pseudopodial branch initiation. Myosin II is dynamically localized to the EC cortex and is partially released under conditions that promote branching. Local depletion of cortical myosin II precedes branch initiation, and initiation can be induced by local inhibition of myosin II activity. Thus, local downregulation of myosin II cortical contraction allows pseudopodium initiation to mediate EC branching and hence guide directional migration and angiogenesis.
Project description:Extracellular matrix (ECM)-derived bioscaffolds have been shown to elicit tissue repair through retention of bioactive signals. Given that the adventitia of large blood vessels is a richly vascularized microenvironment, we hypothesized that perivascular ECM contains bioactive signals that influence cells of blood vessel lineages. ECM bioscaffolds were derived from decellularized human and porcine aortic adventitia (hAdv and pAdv, respectively) and then shown have minimal DNA content and retain elastin and collagen proteins. Hydrogel formulations of hAdv and pAdv ECM bioscaffolds exhibited gelation kinetics similar to ECM hydrogels derived from porcine small intestinal submucosa (pSIS). hAdv and pAdv ECM hydrogels displayed thinner, less undulated, and fibrous microarchitecture reminiscent of native adventitia, with slight differences in ultrastructure visible in comparison to pSIS ECM hydrogels. Pepsin-digested pAdv and pSIS ECM bioscaffolds increased proliferation of human adventitia-derived endothelial cells and this effect was mediated in part by basic fibroblast growth factor (FGF2). Human endothelial cells cultured on Matrigel substrates formed more numerous and longer tube-like structures when supplemented with pAdv ECM bioscaffolds, and FGF2 mediated this matrix signaling. ECM bioscaffolds derived from pAdv promoted FGF2-dependent in vivo angiogenesis in the chick chorioallantoic membrane model. Using an angiogenesis-focused protein array, we detected 55 angiogenesis-related proteins, including FGF2 in hAdv, pAdv and pSIS ECMs. Interestingly, 19 of these factors were less abundant in ECMs bioscaffolds derived from aneurysmal specimens of human aorta when compared with non-aneurysmal (normal) specimens. This study reveals that Adv ECM hydrogels recapitulate matrix fiber microarchitecture of native adventitia, and retain angiogenesis-related actors and bioactive properties such as FGF2 signaling capable of influencing processes important for angiogenesis. This work supports the use of Adv ECM bioscaffolds for both discovery biology and potential translation towards microvascular regeneration in clinical applications.