Honors College Thesis

 

A quantitative analysis of three-dimensional contact guidance by breast cancer cells Public Deposited

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  • Exploring and quantifying the parameters regarding contact guidance may provide valuable insight to the precise mechanisms controlling cell movement, especially in a three-dimensional environment. The objective of this project was to quantify the relationship between MDA-MB-231 cell morphogenesis and the geometry of the cell’s local microenvironment, which was modeled by collagen networks of varying degrees of organization. Specifically, a non-linear correlation was found between the aspect ratio of the cell and the misalignment angle between average cellular and local fiber direction. This relationship was modeled by a power law function, which is proposed to be indicative of a cellular feedback mechanism between morphogenesis in MDA-MB-231 cells and fiber organization. Furthermore, using confocal immunofluorescence imaging the presence of proteins known to be critically involved in mechanosensing (specifically, actin and vinculin) was observed in cells exhibiting contact guidance in a three-dimensional network, suggesting molecular similarities in the processes of mechanosensing and geometry sensing.
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