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Development of a novel liquid crystal based cell traction force transducer system

Biosensors and Bioelectronics
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.bios.2012.06.032
  • Liquid Crystals
  • Cell Traction Force Transducer
  • Keratinocytes
  • Cell Traction Force Map


Abstract Keratinocyte traction forces play a crucial role in wound healing. The aim of this study was to develop a novel cell traction force (CTF) transducer system based on cholesteryl ester liquid crystals (LC). Keratinocytes cultured on LC induced linear and isolated deformation lines in the LC surface. As suggested by the fluorescence staining, the deformation lines appeared to correlate with the forces generated by the contraction of circumferential actin filaments which were transmitted to the LC surface via the focal adhesions. Due to the linear viscoelastic behavior of the LC, Hooke's equation was used to quantify the CTFs by associating Young's modulus of LC to the cell induced stresses and biaxial strain in forming the LC deformation. Young's modulus of the LC was profiled by using spherical indentation and determined at approximately 87.1±17.2kPa. A new technique involving cytochalasin-B treatment was used to disrupt the intracellular force generating actin fibers, and consequently the biaxial strain in the LC induced by the cells was determined. Due to the improved sensitivity and spatial resolution (∼1μm) of the LC based CTF transducer, a wide range of CTFs was determined (10–120nN). These were found to be linearly proportional to the length of the deformations. The linear relationship of CTF-deformations was then applied in a bespoke CTF mapping software to estimate CTFs and to map CTF fields. The generated CTF map highlighted distinct distributions and different magnitude of CTFs were revealed for polarized and non-polarized keratinocytes.

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