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Title: Cell compliance : cytoskeletal origin and importance for cellular function
Author: Lautenschlaeger, Franziska
ISNI:       0000 0004 2708 622X
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2011
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Mechanical properties of cells, mainly defined by their cytoskeleton, are closely related to cell function and can be measured with a dual-beam laser trap (optical stretcher). Functional changes, which go hand in hand with changes of the cytoskeleton, also occur during differentiation of stem cells. This suggests monitoring differentiation by the changing compliance of the cells. During the course of my PhD I measured the compliance of three different types of stem cells before and after differentiation and was able to detect differences in some of the cell types. In order to relate rheological experiments to cell migration as a further example of functional change I investigated the migration behavior of cells that showed different compliance and found differences in migration. I was additionally able to show an altered migration behavior after I actively changed the mechanical behavior of one cell type using cytoskeletal drugs. These migration experiments have been carried out in 2D and 3D migration assays. Furthermore, the influence of the stiffness of the surrounding material on the migration behavior has been investigated. After relating functional changes to changes in compliance, I studied which mechanisms can be used to actually influence cell compliance and investigated the effect of cytoskeletal stabilizers or destabilizers as well as drugs acting on molecular motors. The effect of the surrounding temperature has been considered as well. Finally, I developed a new version of the optical stretcher measurement tool, which enables cell sorting and drug screening using a monolithic glass chip. With the results presented in this thesis I relate mechanical compliance to the cytoskeleton and specific cellular functions. I deliver insights how mechanical changes in cells can be used to identify and follow functional changes and how this knowledge can help to interfere with such functions, specifically in pathologies correlated to these functions. My modified optical stretcher would be developed to screen the effects of drugs on cell compliance and to sort cells with different mechanical properties. Such drug screening and cell sorting will offer diagnostic treatment options for various pathologies.
Supervisor: Guck, Jochen Sponsor: Gates Scholarship Cambridge
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Optical stretcher ; Cell compliance ; Stem cells ; Differentiation ; Migration