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changing cell shape - (Oct/08/2009 )

Does anyone have any ideas or techniques on how to stretch or squeeze a mammalian cell in 2-D? Any and all ideas appreciated! Thanks!


Something like this will do it:

Check out papers on primary cilia for more info - people working on them do it all the time.


Mechanical response of cells to their environment is becoming an important issue in cell biology. Unidirectional stretching of cells growing on silicone/elastomer (PDMS) membranes has been used in several labs. Application of either cyclic stretch or shear stress to cells is used.

See for example:
Mechanical force mobilizes zyxin from focal adhesions to actin filaments and regulates cytoskeletal reinforcement
Masaaki Yoshigi, Laura M. Hoffman, Christopher C. Jensen, H. Joseph Yost, and Mary C. Beckerle
J. Cell Biol. 2005 171: 209-215.

Depending on the expected effects , and the resolution needed, force can be applied on confluent cells or on individual cells. For individual cells, a possible problem is that cells are not stretched identically, as they have different shapes and sizes with respect to the stretch direction.
Using individual cells growing on adhesive micropatterns printed on the silicone/elastomer membranes is explored in several laboratories. This should considerably simplify the control of force application and also increase the reproducibility of the effects from one cell to the next, since cells are normalized by the adhesive micropatterns.

These techniques are not easily accessible to most academic cell biology labs, as specific equipments are required to make these patterns. One of the reasons for starting CYTOO was to make these approaches more widely accessible.

M Bornens