Label-Free Automated Cell Tracking: Analysis of the Role of E-cadherin Expression in Collective Electrotaxis.
ABSTRACT: Collective cell migration plays an important role in wound healing, organogenesis, and the progression of metastatic disease. Analysis of collective migration typically involves laborious and time-consuming manual tracking of individual cells within cell clusters over several dozen or hundreds of frames. Herein, we develop a label-free, automated algorithm to identify and track individual epithelial cells within a free-moving cluster. We use this algorithm to analyze the effects of partial E-cadherin knockdown on collective migration of MCF-10A breast epithelial cells directed by an electric field. Our data show that E-cadherin knockdown in free-moving cell clusters diminishes electrotactic potential, with empty vector MCF-10A cells showing 16% higher directedness than cells with E-cadherin knockdown. Decreased electrotaxis is also observed in isolated cells at intermediate electric fields, suggesting an adhesion-independent role of E-cadherin in regulating electrotaxis. In additional support of an adhesion-independent role of E-cadherin, isolated cells with reduced E-cadherin expression reoriented within an applied electric field 60% more quickly than control. These results have implications for the role of E-cadherin expression in electrotaxis and demonstrate proof-of-concept of an automated algorithm that is broadly applicable to the analysis of collective migration in a wide range of physiological and pathophysiological contexts.
Project description:Directed cell migration is critical across biological processes spanning healing to cancer invasion, yet no existing tools allow real-time interactive guidance over such migration. We present a new bioreactor that harnesses electrotaxis-directed cell migration along electric field gradients-by integrating four independent electrodes under computer control to dynamically program electric field patterns, and hence steer cell migration. Using this platform, we programmed and characterized multiple precise, two-dimensional collective migration maneuvers in renal epithelia and primary skin keratinocyte ensembles. First, we demonstrated on-demand, 90-degree collective turning. Next, we developed a universal electrical stimulation scheme capable of programming arbitrary 2D migration maneuvers such as precise angular turns and migration in a complete circle. Our stimulation scheme proves that cells effectively time-average electric field cues, helping to elucidate the transduction timescales in electrotaxis. Together, this work represents an enabling platform for controlling cell migration with broad utility across many cell types.
Project description:During development and disease, cells migrate collectively in response to gradients in physical, chemical and electrical cues. Despite its physiological significance and potential therapeutic applications, electrotactic collective cell movement is relatively less well understood. Here, we analyze the combined effect of intercellular interactions and electric fields on the directional migration of non-transformed mammary epithelial cells, MCF-10A. Our data show that clustered cells exhibit greater sensitivity to applied electric fields but align more slowly than isolated cells. Clustered cells achieve half-maximal directedness with an electric field that is 50% weaker than that required by isolated cells; however, clustered cells take ?2-4 fold longer to align. This trade-off in greater sensitivity and slower dynamics correlates with the slower speed and intrinsic directedness of collective movement even in the absence of an electric field. Whereas isolated cells exhibit a persistent random walk, the trajectories of clustered cells are more ballistic as evidenced by the superlinear dependence of their mean square displacement on time. Thus, intrinsically-directed, slower clustered cells take longer to redirect and align with an electric field. These findings help to define the operating space and the engineering trade-offs for using electric fields to affect cell movement in biomedical applications.
Project description:We showed previously that cruciferous vegetable constituent benzyl isothiocyanate (BITC) inhibits growth of cultured and xenografted human breast cancer cells and suppresses mammary cancer development in a transgenic mouse model. We now show, for the first time, that BITC inhibits epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in human breast cancer cells. Exposure of estrogen-independent MDA-MB-231 and estrogen-responsive MCF-7 human breast cancer cell lines and a pancreatic cancer cell line (PL-45) to BITC resulted in upregulation of epithelial markers (e.g., E-cadherin and/or occludin) with a concomitant decrease in protein levels of mesenchymal markers, including vimentin, fibronectin, snail, and/or c-Met. The BITC-mediated induction of E-cadherin protein was accompanied by an increase in its transcription, whereas BITC-treated MDA-MB-231 cells exhibited suppression of vimentin, snail, and slug mRNA levels. Experimental EMT induced by exposure to TGF? and TNF? or Rb knockdown in a spontaneously immortalized nontumorigenic human mammary epithelial cell line (MCF-10A) was also partially reversed by BITC treatment. The TGF?-/TNF?-induced migration of MCF-10A cells was inhibited in the presence of BITC, which was partially attenuated by RNA interference of E-cadherin. Inhibition of MDA-MB-231 xenograft growth in vivo in female athymic mice by BITC administration was associated with an increase in protein level of E-cadherin and suppression of vimentin and fibronectin protein expression. In conclusion, this study reports a novel anticancer effect of BITC involving inhibition of EMT, a process triggered during progression of cancer to invasive state.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Cells show directed migration response to electric signals, namely electrotaxis or galvanotaxis. PI3K and PTEN jointly play counterbalancing roles in this event via a bilateral regulation of PIP3 signaling. PI3K has been proved essential in anterior signaling of electrotaxing cells, whilst the role of PTEN remains elusive.<h4>Methods</h4>Dictyostelium cells with different genetic backgrounds were treated with direct current electric signals to investigate the genetic regulation of electrotaxis.<h4>Results</h4>We demonstrated that electric signals promoted PTEN phosphatase activity and asymmetrical translocation to the posterior plasma membrane of the electrotaxing cells. Electric stimulation produced a similar but delayed rear redistribution of myosin II, immediately before electrotaxis started. Actin polymerization is required for the asymmetric membrane translocation of PTEN and myosin. PTEN signaling is also responsible for the asymmetric anterior redistribution of PIP3/F-actin, and a biased redistribution of pseudopod protrusion in the forwarding direction of electrotaxing cells.<h4>Conclusions</h4>PTEN controls electrotaxis by coordinately regulating asymmetric redistribution of myosin to the posterior, and PIP3/F-actin to the anterior region of the directed migration cells.
Project description:Electric fields are generated <i>in vivo</i> in a variety of physiologic and pathologic settings, including wound healing and immune response to injuries to epithelial barriers (e.g. lung pneumocytes). Immune cells are known to migrate towards both chemical (chemotaxis), physical (mechanotaxis) and electric stimuli (electrotaxis). Electrotaxis is the guided migration of cells along electric fields, and has previously been reported in T-cells and cancer cells. However, there remains a need for engineering tools with high spatial and temporal resolution to quantify EF guided migration. Here we report the development of an electrotaxis-on-chip (ETOC) platform that enables the quantification of dHL-60 cell, a model neutrophil-like cell line, migration toward both electrical and chemoattractant gradients. Neutrophils are the most abundant white blood cells and set the stage for the magnitude of the immune response. Therefore, developing engineering tools to direct neutrophil migration patterns has applications in both infectious disease and inflammatory disorders. The ETOC developed in this study has embedded electrodes and four migration zones connected to a central cell-loading chamber with migration channels [10 µm X 10 µm]. This device enables both parallel and competing chemoattractant and electric fields. We use our novel ETOC platform to investigate dHL-60 cell migration in three biologically relevant conditions: 1) in a DC electric field; 2) parallel chemical gradient and electric fields; and 3) perpendicular chemical gradient and electric field. In this study we used differentiated leukemia cancer cells (dHL60 cells), an accepted model for human peripheral blood neutrophils. We first quantified effects of electric field intensities (0.4V/cm-1V/cm) on dHL-60 cell electrotaxis. Our results show optimal migration at 0.6 V/cm. In the second scenario, we tested whether it was possible to increase dHL-60 cell migration to a bacterial signal [N-formylated peptides (fMLP)] by adding a parallel electric field. Our results show that there was significant increase (6-fold increase) in dHL60 migration toward fMLP and cathode of DC electric field (0.6V/cm, n=4, p-value<0.005) <i>vs</i>. fMLP alone. Finally, we evaluated whether we could decrease or re-direct dHL-60 cell migration away from an inflammatory signal [leukotriene B<sub>4</sub> (LTB<sub>4</sub>)]. The perpendicular electric field significantly decreased migration (2.9-fold decrease) of dHL60s toward LTB<sub>4</sub> <i>vs</i>. LTB<sub>4</sub> alone. Our microfluidic device enabled us to quantify single-cell electrotaxis velocity (7.9 µm/min ± 3.6). The magnitude and direction of the electric field can be more precisely and quickly changed than most other guidance cues such as chemical cues in clinical investigation. A better understanding of EF guided cell migration will enable the development of new EF-based treatments to precisely direct immune cell migration for wound care, infection, and other inflammatory disorders.
Project description:As collective cell migration is essential in biological processes spanning development, healing, and cancer progression, methods to externally program cell migration are of great value. However, problems can arise if the external commands compete with strong, preexisting collective behaviors in the tissue or system. We investigate this problem by applying a potent external migratory cue-electrical stimulation and electrotaxis-to primary mouse skin monolayers where we can tune cell-cell adhesion strength to modulate endogenous collectivity. Monolayers with high cell-cell adhesion showed strong natural coordination and resisted electrotactic control, with this conflict actively damaging the leading edge of the tissue. However, reducing preexisting coordination in the tissue by specifically inhibiting E-cadherin-dependent cell-cell adhesion, either by disrupting the formation of cell-cell junctions with E-cadherin-specific antibodies or rapidly dismantling E-cadherin junctions with calcium chelators, significantly improved controllability. Finally, we applied this paradigm of weakening existing coordination to improve control and demonstrate accelerated wound closure in vitro. These results are in keeping with those from diverse, noncellular systems and confirm that endogenous collectivity should be considered as a key quantitative design variable when optimizing external control of collective migration.
Project description:Directional cell migration in an electric field, a phenomenon called galvanotaxis or electrotaxis, occurs in many types of cells, and may play an important role in wound healing and development. Small extracellular electric fields can guide the migration of amoeboid cells, and we established a large-scale screening approach to search for mutants with electrotaxis phenotypes from a collection of 563 Dictyostelium discoideum strains with morphological defects. We identified 28 strains that were defective in electrotaxis and 10 strains with a slightly higher directional response. Using plasmid rescue followed by gene disruption, we identified some of the mutated genes, including some previously implicated in chemotaxis. Among these, we studied PiaA, which encodes a critical component of TORC2, a kinase protein complex that transduces changes in motility by activating the kinase PKB (also known as Akt). Furthermore, we found that electrotaxis was decreased in mutants lacking gefA, rasC, rip3, lst8, or pkbR1, genes that encode other components of the TORC2-PKB pathway. Thus, we have developed a high-throughput screening technique that will be a useful tool to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of electrotaxis.
Project description:Weak electric fields guide cell migration, known as galvanotaxis/electrotaxis. The sensor(s) cells use to detect the fields remain elusive. Here we perform a large-scale screen using an RNAi library targeting ion transporters in human cells. We identify 18 genes that show either defective or increased galvanotaxis after knockdown. Knockdown of the KCNJ15 gene (encoding inwardly rectifying K(+) channel Kir4.2) specifically abolishes galvanotaxis, without affecting basal motility and directional migration in a monolayer scratch assay. Depletion of cytoplasmic polyamines, highly positively charged small molecules that regulate Kir4.2 function, completely inhibits galvanotaxis, whereas increase of intracellular polyamines enhances galvanotaxis in a Kir4.2-dependent manner. Expression of a polyamine-binding defective mutant of KCNJ15 significantly decreases galvanotaxis. Knockdown or inhibition of KCNJ15 prevents phosphatidylinositol 3,4,5-triphosphate (PIP3) from distributing to the leading edge. Taken together these data suggest a previously unknown two-molecule sensing mechanism in which KCNJ15/Kir4.2 couples with polyamines in sensing weak electric fields.
Project description:We present a method to induce electric fields and drive electrotaxis (galvanotaxis) without the need for electrodes to be in contact with the media containing the cell cultures. We report experimental results using a modification of the transmembrane assay, demonstrating the hindrance of migration of breast cancer cells (SCP2) when an induced a.c. electric field is present in the appropriate direction (i.e. in the direction of migration). Of significance is that migration of these cells is hindered at electric field strengths many orders of magnitude (5 to 6) below those previously reported for d.c. electrotaxis, and even in the presence of a chemokine (SDF-1?) or a growth factor (EGF). Induced a.c. electric fields applied in the direction of migration are also shown to hinder motility of non-transformed human mammary epithelial cells (MCF10A) in the presence of the growth factor EGF. In addition, we also show how our method can be applied to other cell migration assays (scratch assay), and by changing the coil design and holder, that it is also compatible with commercially available multi-well culture plates.
Project description:<b>Rationale:</b> Bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (BM-MSCs) recruited into breast tumors regulate the behavior of tumor cells via various mechanisms and affect clinical outcomes. Although signaling molecules, such as transforming growth factor β (TGF-β), are known to transmit signals between BM-MSCs and breast tumor cells for recruiting BM-MSCs, it is unclear which specific intrinsic molecules involved in cell motility mediate the migration of BM-MSCs into breast tumor. It is also unclear as to how specific intrinsic molecules contribute to the migration. <b>Methods:</b> Conditioned medium (CM) from breast tumor cells (MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231) that simulates breast tumor secreting TGF-β was used to examine the migration of BM-MSCs into breast tumors. A three-dimensional migration assay was performed to investigate the collective migration of BM-MSCs, maintaining cell-cell adhesion, toward breast tumor cells. <b>Results:</b> N-cadherin formed adherens junction-like structures on the intercellular borders of BM-MSCs, and TGF-β increased the expression of N-cadherin on these borders. Knockdown of Smad4 impaired the TGF-β-mediated increase in N-cadherin expression in BM-MSCs, but inhibitors of non-canonical TGF-β pathways, such as extracellular signal-regulated kinases, Akt, and p38, did not affect it. siRNA-mediated knockdown of N-cadherin and Smad4 impaired the migration of BM-MSCs in response to TGF-β. Conditioned medium from breast tumor cells also enhanced the expression of N-cadherin in BM-MSCs, but inactivation of TGF-β type 1 receptor (TGFBR1) with SB505124 and TGFBR1 knockdown abolished the increase in N-cadherin expression. BM-MSCs collectively migrated toward CM from MDA-MB-231 <i>in vitro</i> while maintaining cell-cell adhesion through N-cadherin. Knockdown of N-cadherin abolished the migration of BM-MSCs toward the CM from breast tumor cells. <b>Conclusion:</b> In the present study, we identified N-cadherin, an intrinsic transmembrane molecule in adherens junction-like structures, on BM-MSCs as a mediator for the migration of these cells toward breast tumor. The expression of N-cadherin increases on the intercellular borders of BM-MSCs through the TGF-β canonical signaling and they collectively migrate in response to breast tumor cells expressing TGF-β via N-cadherin-dependent cell-cell adhesion. We, herein, introduce a novel promising strategy for controlling and re-engineering the breast tumor microenvironment.