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Evaluating the Correlation Between Fibroblast Morphology and Promoter Activity on Thin Films of Extracellular Matrix Proteins



K J. Langenbach, John T. Elliott, Alessandro Tona, Anne L. Plant


The response of cells to their environment is complex, not only because of the many chemical, mechanical, and other features of the environment that they respond to, but because cross-talk between intracellular signaling pathways adds to the complexity. The cell-extracellular matrix (ECM) interactions are important determinants of cell response, and therefore, careful control of the ECM is extremely important for reproducible and predictable cellular response. A robust method for preparing highly reproducible and spatially homogeneous thin films of fibrillar collagen has been described by (Elliott et al., Langmuir 19, 1506-1514). These highly homogeneous thin film matrices have been used to examine the variation in NIH3T3 fibroblast response within a clonal population that is cultured under apparently identical conditions. Comparison of the distributions in response for populations of cells grown on three different thin film matrices have been performed, in addition to quantitatively evaluating the relationship between cell spreading, cytoskeleton organization, and tenascin-C promoter activity by examining large numbers of individual cells. We find that when considering average response, cell area correlates with tenascin-C promoter based reporter activity expression; however cell-by-cell analysis suggests that cell area is not tightly correlated with tenascin-C promoter activity. These data suggest that while cell spreading and increasing cell size may contribute to an overall increase in gene activation, caution must be exercised when direct causal relationships between two events are to be concluded.
Journal of Cell Science


automated fluorescence microscopy, cell morphology, collagen, extracellular matrix, fibroblasts, fibronectin, quantitative microscopy, tenascin-C promoter


Langenbach, K. , Elliott, J. , Tona, A. and Plant, A. (2006), Evaluating the Correlation Between Fibroblast Morphology and Promoter Activity on Thin Films of Extracellular Matrix Proteins, Journal of Cell Science (Accessed April 17, 2024)
Created March 6, 2006, Updated April 6, 2017