In the body, soft tissues often undergo cycles of stretching and relaxation that may affect cell behaviour without changing matrix rigidity. To determine whether transient forces can substitute for a rigid matrix, we stretched soft pillar arrays. Surprisingly, 1-5% cyclic stretching over a frequency range of 0.01-10 Hz caused spreading and stress fibre formation (optimum 0.1 Hz) that persisted after 4 h of stretching. Similarly, stretching increased cell growth rates on soft pillars comparative to rigid substrates. Of possible factors linked to fibroblast growth, MRTF-A (myocardin-related transcription factor-A) moved to the nucleus in 2 h of cyclic stretching and reversed on cessation; but YAP (Yes-associated protein) moved much later. Knockdown of either MRTF-A or YAP blocked stretch-dependent growth. Thus, we suggest that the repeated pulling from a soft matrix can substitute for a stiff matrix in stimulating spreading, stress fibre formation and growth.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)