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Cell Mol Bioeng. 2010 Mar 1;3(1):76-83.

Rho Kinase Regulation of Fibroblast Migratory Mechanics in Fibrillar Collagen Matrices.

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  • 1Biomedical Engineering Program and Department of Ophthalmology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.


Migration of activated corneal fibroblasts plays an important role in matrix patterning during embryonic development and wound repopulation following injury or refractive surgery. In this study, we investigate the role of Rho kinase in regulating fibroblast migration mechanics, by modifying a previously described nested collagen matrix model to facilitate dynamic imaging of cell-matrix interactions.Human corneal fibroblasts were cultured in nested matrices with media containing either 1% fetal bovine serum (FBS), or 1% FBS plus the Rho kinase inhibitor Y-27632. Time-lapse DIC imaging of cell and extracellular matrix (ECM) movements was performed for up to 72 hours. In addition, static confocal imaging was used to assess 3-D cell morphology and local matrix reorganization.In 1% FBS, significant tractional forces were generated during migration, as indicated by inward displacement and reorganization of collagen in front of cells. When Rho kinase was inhibited, cells became more elongated, and extended dendritic processes into the outer matrix. Interestingly, these dendritic cells were still able to generate tractional forces at their leading edge, whereas cell translocation was substantially reduced. Overall, the data suggests that Rho kinase impacts 3-D fibroblast migration by affecting morphology, polarization, and mechanical coordination between the leading and trailing edges of cells.

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