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Biophys J. 2016 Jul 12;111(1):236-46. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2016.06.005.

Pericellular Brush and Mechanics of Guinea Pig Fibroblast Cells Studied with AFM.

Author information

1
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts.
2
Department of Biology, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York.
3
Department of Biology, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York. Electronic address: vera.gorbunova@rochester.edu.
4
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts; Department of Physics, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts; Department of Biomedical Engineering, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts. Electronic address: igor.sokolov@tufts.edu.

Abstract

The atomic force microscopy (AFM) indentation method combined with the brush model can be used to separate the mechanical response of the cell body from deformation of the pericellular layer surrounding biological cells. Although self-consistency of the brush model to derive the elastic modulus of the cell body has been demonstrated, the model ability to characterize the pericellular layer has not been explicitly verified. Here we demonstrate it by using enzymatic removal of hyaluronic content of the pericellular brush for guinea pig fibroblast cells. The effect of this removal is clearly seen in the AFM force-separation curves associated with the pericellular brush layer. We further extend the brush model for brushes larger than the height of the AFM probe, which seems to be the case for fibroblast cells. In addition, we demonstrate that an extension of the brush model (i.e., double-brush model) is capable of detecting the hierarchical structure of the pericellular brush, which, for example, may consist of the pericellular coat and the membrane corrugation (microridges and microvilli). It allows us to quantitatively segregate the large soft polysaccharide pericellular coat from a relatively rigid and dense membrane corrugation layer. This was verified by comparison of the parameters of the membrane corrugation layer derived from the force curves collected on untreated cells (when this corrugation membrane part is hidden inside the pericellular brush layer) and on treated cells after the enzymatic removal of the pericellular coat part (when the corrugations are exposed to the AFM probe). We conclude that the brush model is capable of not only measuring the mechanics of the cell body but also the parameters of the pericellular brush layer, including quantitative characterization of the pericellular layer structure.

PMID:
27410750
PMCID:
PMC4944720
DOI:
10.1016/j.bpj.2016.06.005
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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