Stable, covalent attachment of laminin to microposts improves the contractility of mouse neonatal cardiomyocytes.
ABSTRACT: The mechanical output of contracting cardiomyocytes, the muscle cells of the heart, relates to healthy and disease states of the heart. Culturing cardiomyocytes on arrays of elastomeric microposts can enable inexpensive and high-throughput studies of heart disease at the single-cell level. However, cardiomyocytes weakly adhere to these microposts, which limits the possibility of using biomechanical assays of single cardiomyocytes to study heart disease. We hypothesized that a stable covalent attachment of laminin to the surface of microposts improves cardiomyocyte contractility. We cultured cells on polydimethylsiloxane microposts with laminin covalently bonded with the organosilanes 3-glycidoxypropyltrimethoxysilane and 3-aminopropyltriethoxysilane with glutaraldehyde. We measured displacement of microposts induced by the contractility of mouse neonatal cardiomyocytes, which attach better than mature cardiomyocytes to substrates. We observed time-dependent changes in contractile parameters such as micropost deformation, contractility rates, contraction and relaxation speeds, and the times of contractions. These parameters were affected by the density of laminin on microposts and by the stability of laminin binding to micropost surfaces. Organosilane-mediated binding resulted in higher laminin surface density and laminin binding stability. 3-glycidoxypropyltrimethoxysilane provided the highest laminin density but did not provide stable protein binding with time. Higher surface protein binding stability and strength were observed with 3-aminopropyltriethoxysilane with glutaraldehyde. In cultured cardiomyocytes, contractility rate, contraction speeds, and contraction time increased with higher laminin stability. Given these variations in contractile function, we conclude that binding of laminin to microposts via 3-aminopropyltriethoxysilane with glutaraldehyde improves contractility observed by an increase in beating rate and contraction speed as it occurs during the postnatal maturation of cardiomyocytes. This approach is promising for future studies to mimic in vivo tissue environments.
Project description:External forces are increasingly recognized as major regulators of cellular structure and function, yet the underlying mechanism by which cells sense forces and transduce them into intracellular biochemical signals and behavioral responses ('mechanotransduction') is largely undetermined. To aid in the mechanistic study of mechanotransduction, herein we devised a cell stretching device that allowed for quantitative control and real-time measurement of mechanical stimuli and cellular biomechanical responses. Our strategy involved a microfabricated array of silicone elastomeric microposts integrated onto a stretchable elastomeric membrane. Using a computer-controlled vacuum, this micropost array membrane (mPAM) was activated to apply equibiaxial cell stretching forces to adherent cells attached to the microposts. Using the mPAM, we studied the live-cell subcellular dynamic responses of contractile forces in vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) to a sustained static equibiaxial cell stretch. Our data showed that in response to a sustained cell stretch, VSMCs regulated their cytoskeletal (CSK) contractility in a biphasic manner: they first acutely enhanced their contraction to resist rapid cell deformation ('stiffening') before they allowed slow adaptive inelastic CSK reorganization to release their contractility ('softening'). The contractile response across entire single VSMCs was spatially inhomogeneous and force-dependent. Our mPAM device and live-cell subcellular contractile measurements will help elucidate the mechanotransductive system in VSMCs and thus contribute to our understanding of pressure-induced vascular disease processes.
Project description:As cardiomyocytes mature, their sarcomeres and Z-band widths increase in length in order for their myofibrils to produce stronger twitch forces during a contraction. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that tensional homeostasis is affected by altering myofibril forces. To assess this hypothesis, neonatal rat cardiomyocytes were cultured on arrays of microposts to measure cellular contractility. An optical line scanning technique was used to measure the deflections in the microposts with high temporal resolution, enabling the analysis of twitch force, twitch velocity, and twitch power. Myofibril force production was elevated by vector-mediated overexpression of ribonucleotide reductase (RR) to increase cellular dATP content or by adding the inotropic agent EMD 57033 (EMD). We found that RR and EMD treatment did not affect cardiomyocyte twitch force, but it did lead to reduced twitch velocity and twitch power. Immunofluorescent analysis of ?-actinin revealed that RR-over-expressing cardiomyocytes and EMD-treated cardiomyocytes had lower spread area, sarcomere length, and Z-band width as compared to control cells. These results indicate a correlation between myofibril structure and cardiac power. This correlation was confirmed by exposing the cells to the myosin II inhibitor blebbistatin, and then subsequently washing it out. After wash-out, cardiomyocytes exhibited a reduction in twitch force, velocity, and power due to shorter sarcomere length and Z-band widths. Our results suggest that cardiac myofibril structure is regulated by tensional homeostasis. If myofibril-generated forces in cardiomyocytes are elevated, a state of tensional homeostasis is maintained by producing sufficient twitch forces with a lower degree myofibril structure.
Project description:Mechanical traction forces exerted by adherent cells on their surroundings serve an important role in a multitude of cellular and physiological processes including cell motility and multicellular rearrangements. For endothelial cells, contraction also provides a means to disrupt cell-cell junctions during inflammation to increase permeability between blood and interstitial tissue compartments. The degree of contractility exhibited by endothelial cells is influenced by numerous soluble factors, such as thrombin, histamine, lysophosphatidic acid, sphingosine-1-phosphate, and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Upon binding to cell surface receptors, these agents trigger changes in cytoskeletal organization, adhesion and myosin II activity to varying degrees. While conventional antibody-based biochemical assays are suitable for detecting relatively large changes in biomarkers of contractility in an end-point format, they cannot resolve subtle or rapid changes in contractility and cannot do so noninvasively. To overcome these limitations, we developed an approach to measure the contractile response of single cells exposed to contractility agonists with high spatiotemporal resolution. A previously developed traction force sensor, comprised of dense arrays of elastomeric microposts on which cells are cultured, was combined with custom, semi-automated software developed here to extract strain energy measurements from thousands of time-lapse images of micropost arrays deformed by adherent cells. Using this approach we corroborated the differential effects of known agonists of contractility and characterized the dynamics of their effects. All of these agonists produced a characteristic first-order rise and plateau in forces, except VEGF, which stimulated an early transient spike in strain energy followed by a sustained increase. This novel, two-phase contractile response was present in a subpopulation of cells, was mediated through both VEGFR2 and ROCK activation, and its magnitude was modulated by receptor internalization. Interestingly, the concentration of VEGF could shift the proportion of cells that responded with a spike versus only a gradual increase in forces. Furthermore, cells repeatedly exposed to VEGF were found to contract with different dynamics after pretreatment, suggesting that exposure history can impact the mechanical response. These studies highlight the importance of direct measurements of traction force dynamics as a tool for studies of mechanotransduction.
Project description:The extracellular matrix varies considerably in mechanical properties at the microscale. It remains unclear how cells respond to these properties, in part, due to lack of tools to create precisely defined microenvironments in a discrete manner. Here, freeform stereolithography is leveraged to control the placement and elastic modulus of individual hydrogel microposts that serve as discrete matrix signals to interface with cells. Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) located in the interstitial spaces between microposts above a base layer are analyzed. Cell volume is higher when MSCs interact with more microposts. MSCs show higher strain energy when they interact simultaneously with 4-kPa and 20-kPa microposts than with mechanically homogeneous micropost arrays. MSCs are sensitive to pharmacological inhibition of Rho-associated protein kinase in 4-kPa arrays, but resistant when presented together with 20-kPa arrays. Yes-associated protein (YAP) activity increases with higher cell volume and elastic modulus of microposts. Surprisingly, YAP activity becomes less variable with higher cell volume and decreases with higher average force and strain energy per post when MSCs interact with both 4-kPa and 20-kPa microposts simultaneously. Together, these results describe a material system for systematically investigating how the placement and intrinsic properties of discrete matrix signals impact cell volume and mechanotransduction.
Project description:We report the establishment of a library of micromolded elastomeric micropost arrays to modulate substrate rigidity independently of effects on adhesive and other material surface properties. We demonstrated that micropost rigidity impacts cell morphology, focal adhesions, cytoskeletal contractility and stem cell differentiation. Furthermore, early changes in cytoskeletal contractility predicted later stem cell fate decisions in single cells.
Project description:Migration of a fibroblast along a collagen fiber can be regarded as cell locomotion in one-dimension (1D). In this process, a cell protrudes forward, forms a new adhesion, produces traction forces, and releases its rear adhesion in order to advance itself along a path. However, how a cell coordinates its adhesion formation, traction forces, and rear release in 1D migration is unclear. Here, we studied fibroblasts migrating along a line of microposts. We found that when the front of a cell protruded onto a new micropost, the traction force produced at its front increased steadily, but did so without a temporal correlation in the force at its rear. Instead, the force at the front coordinated with a decrease in force at the micropost behind the front. A similar correlation in traction forces also occurred at the rear of a cell, where a decrease in force due to adhesion detachment corresponded to an increase in force at the micropost ahead of the rear. Analysis with a bio-chemo-mechanical model for traction forces and adhesion dynamics indicated that the observed relationship between traction forces at the front and back of a cell is possible only when cellular elasticity is lower than the elasticity of the cellular environment.
Project description:Many current pharmaceutical therapies for systolic heart failure target intracellular [Ca(2+)] ([Ca(2+)]i) metabolism, or cardiac troponin C (cTnC) on thin filaments, and can have significant side-effects, including arrhythmias or adverse effects on diastolic function. In this study, we tested the feasibility of directly increasing the Ca(2+) binding properties of cTnC to enhance contraction independent of [Ca(2+)]i in intact cardiomyocytes from healthy and myocardial infarcted (MI) hearts. Specifically, cardiac thin filament activation was enhanced through adenovirus-mediated over-expression of a cardiac troponin C (cTnC) variant designed to have increased Ca(2+) binding affinity conferred by single amino acid substitution (L48Q). In skinned cardiac trabeculae and myofibrils we and others have shown that substitution of L48Q cTnC for native cTnC increases Ca(2+) sensitivity of force and the maximal rate of force development. Here we introduced L48Q cTnC into myofilaments of intact cardiomyocytes via adeno-viral transduction to deliver cDNA for the mutant or wild type (WT) cTnC protein. Using video-microscopy to monitor cell contraction, relaxation, and intracellular Ca(2+) transients (Fura-2), we report that incorporation of L48Q cTnC significantly increased contractility of cardiomyocytes from healthy and MI hearts without adversely affecting Ca(2+) transient properties or relaxation. The improvements in contractility from L48Q cTnC expression are likely the result of enhanced contractile efficiency, as intracellular Ca(2+) transient amplitudes were not affected. Expression and incorporation of L48Q cTnC into myofilaments was confirmed by Western blot analysis of myofibrils from transduced cardiomyocytes, which indicated replacement of 18±2% of native cTnC with L48Q cTnC. These experiments demonstrate the feasibility of directly targeting cardiac thin filament proteins to enhance cardiomyocyte contractility that is impaired following MI.
Project description:Aging is associated with extensive remodeling of the heart, including basement membrane (BM) components that surround cardiomyocytes. Remodeling is thought to impair cardiac mechanotransduction, but the contribution of specific BM components to age-related lateral communication between cardiomyocytes is unclear. Using a genetically tractable, rapidly aging model with sufficient cardiac genetic homology and morphology, e.g. Drosophila melanogaster, we observed differential regulation of BM collagens between laboratory strains, correlating with changes in muscle physiology leading to cardiac dysfunction. Therefore, we sought to understand the extent to which BM proteins modulate contractile function during aging. Cardiac-restricted knockdown of ECM genes Pericardin, Laminin A, and Viking in Drosophila prevented age-associated heart tube restriction and increased contractility, even under viscous load. Most notably, reduction of Laminin A expression correlated with an overall preservation of contractile velocity with age and extension of organismal lifespan. Global heterozygous knockdown confirmed these data, which provides new evidence of a direct link between BM homeostasis, contractility, and maintenance of lifespan.
Project description:The heart pumps blood against the mechanical afterload from arterial resistance, and increased afterload may alter cardiac electrophysiology and contribute to life-threatening arrhythmias. However, the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying mechanoelectric coupling in cardiomyocytes remain unclear. We developed an innovative patch-clamp-in-gel technology to embed cardiomyocytes in a three-dimensional (3D) viscoelastic hydrogel that imposes an afterload during regular myocyte contraction. Here, we investigated how afterload affects action potentials, ionic currents, intracellular Ca<sup>2+</sup> transients, and cell contraction of adult rabbit ventricular cardiomyocytes. We found that afterload prolonged action potential duration (APD), increased transient outward K<sup>+</sup> current, decreased inward rectifier K<sup>+</sup> current, and increased L-type Ca<sup>2+</sup> current. Increased Ca<sup>2+</sup> entry caused enhanced Ca<sup>2+</sup> transients and contractility. Moreover, elevated afterload led to discordant alternans in APD and Ca<sup>2+</sup> transient. Ca<sup>2+</sup> alternans persisted under action potential clamp, indicating that the alternans was Ca<sup>2+</sup> dependent. Furthermore, all these afterload effects were significantly attenuated by inhibiting nitric oxide synthase 1 (NOS1). Taken together, our data reveal a mechano-chemo-electrotransduction (MCET) mechanism that acutely transduces afterload through NOS1-nitric oxide signaling to modulate the action potential, Ca<sup>2+</sup> transient, and contractility. The MCET pathway provides a feedback loop in excitation-Ca<sup>2+</sup> signaling-contraction coupling, enabling autoregulation of contractility in cardiomyocytes in response to afterload. This MCET mechanism is integral to the individual cardiomyocyte (and thus the heart) to intrinsically enhance its contractility in response to the load against which it has to do work. While this MCET is largely compensatory for physiological load changes, it may also increase susceptibility to arrhythmias under excessive pathological loading.
Project description:Cardiac myosin binding protein-C (cMyBP-C) plays a role in sarcomeric structure and stability, as well as modulating heart muscle contraction. The 150 kDa full-length (FL) cMyBP-C has been shown to undergo proteolytic cleavage during ischemia-reperfusion injury, producing an N-terminal 40 kDa fragment (mass 29 kDa) that is predominantly associated with post-ischemic contractile dysfunction. Thus far, the pathogenic properties of such truncated cMyBP-C proteins have not been elucidated. In the present study, we hypothesized that the presence of these 40 kDa fragments is toxic to cardiomyocytes, compared to the 110 kDa C-terminal fragment and FL cMyBP-C. To test this hypothesis, we infected neonatal rat ventricular cardiomyocytes and adult rabbit ventricular cardiomyocytes with adenoviruses expressing the FL, 110 and 40 kDa fragments of cMyBP-C, and measured cytotoxicity, Ca(2+) transients, contractility, and protein-protein interactions. Here we show that expression of 40 kDa fragments in neonatal rat ventricular cardiomyocytes significantly increases LDH release and caspase 3 activity, significantly reduces cell viability, and impairs Ca(2+) handling. Adult cardiomyocytes expressing 40 kDa fragments exhibited similar impairment of Ca(2+) handling along with a significant reduction of sarcomere length shortening, relaxation velocity, and contraction velocity. Pull-down assays using recombinant proteins showed that the 40 kDa fragment binds significantly to sarcomeric actin, comparable to C0-C2 domains. In addition, we discovered several acetylation sites within the 40 kDa fragment that could potentially affect actomyosin function. Altogether, our data demonstrate that the 40 kDa cleavage fragments of cMyBP-C are toxic to cardiomyocytes and significantly impair contractility and Ca(2+) handling via inhibition of actomyosin function. By elucidating the deleterious effects of endogenously expressed cMyBP-C N-terminal fragments on sarcomere function, these data contribute to the understanding of contractile dysfunction following myocardial injury.