Publications

2013
Kaigler D, Silva EA, Mooney DJ. Guided bone regeneration using injectable vascular endothelial growth factor delivery gel. J Periodontol. 2013;84 (2) :230-8.Abstract
BACKGROUND: Vascularization underlies the success of guided bone regeneration (GBR) procedures. This study evaluates the regenerative potential of GBR in combination with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) delivery via an injectable hydrogel system. METHODS: Critical-sized defects were created in rat calvariae, and GBR procedures were performed with a collagen membrane alone (control), or plus bolus delivery of VEGF, or plus application of VEGF-releasing hydrogels (VEGF-Alg). Four and 8 weeks after treatment, defect sites were evaluated with microcomputed tomographic and histomorphometric analyses for blood vessel and bone formation. RESULTS: At 4 weeks, relative to the control condition, the bolus addition of VEGF did not affect blood vessel density within the defect site, yet the application of VEGF-Alg significantly (P <0.05) increased blood vessel density. Although there was no difference in bone regeneration at 4 weeks, at 8 weeks there was a significant (P <0.05) increase in bone regeneration in the VEGF-Alg-treated defects. CONCLUSIONS: These data demonstrate that the application of VEGF-Alg enhanced early angiogenesis, whereas at a later time point, it enhanced bone regeneration. Controlled delivery approaches of angiogenic growth factors used adjunctively with GBR may be a promising strategy for enhancing outcomes of GBR.
Li WA, Mooney DJ. Materials based tumor immunotherapy vaccines. Curr Opin Immunol. 2013;25 (2) :238-45.Abstract
Immunotherapy is a promising approach for treating cancer. However, there are limitations inherent to current approaches which may be addressed by integrating them with biomaterial-based strategies. Material platforms have been fabricated to interact with immune cells through spatially controlled and temporally controlled delivery of immune modulators and to promote immune cell crosstalk. Particle vaccines have been developed to specifically target and deliver agents to organs, cells and subcellular compartments. These strategies have been shown to generate antigen-specific CTL responses and, in some cases, tumor regression. Therefore, collaboration between immunology and materials engineering is likely to result in the creation of strong vaccines to combat cancer in the future.
Darnell MC, Sun J-Y, Mehta M, Johnson C, Arany PR, Suo Z, Mooney DJ. Performance and biocompatibility of extremely tough alginate/polyacrylamide hydrogels. Biomaterials. 2013;34 (33) :8042-8.Abstract
Although hydrogels now see widespread use in a host of applications, low fracture toughness and brittleness have limited their more broad use. As a recently described interpenetrating network (IPN) of alginate and polyacrylamide demonstrated a fracture toughness of ≈ 9000 J/m(2), we sought to explore the biocompatibility and maintenance of mechanical properties of these hydrogels in cell culture and in vivo conditions. These hydrogels can sustain a compressive strain of over 90% with minimal loss of Young's Modulus as well as minimal swelling for up to 50 days of soaking in culture conditions. Mouse mesenchymal stem cells exposed to the IPN gel-conditioned media maintain high viability, and although cells exposed to conditioned media demonstrate slight reductions in proliferation and metabolic activity (WST assay), these effects are abrogated in a dose-dependent manner. Implantation of these IPN hydrogels into subcutaneous tissue of rats for 8 weeks led to mild fibrotic encapsulation and minimal inflammatory response. These results suggest the further exploration of extremely tough alginate/PAAM IPN hydrogels as biomaterials.
Chan G, Mooney DJ. Ca(2+) released from calcium alginate gels can promote inflammatory responses in vitro and in vivo. Acta Biomater. 2013;9 (12) :9281-91.Abstract
In general, alginate hydrogels are considered to be biologically inert and are commonly used for biomedical purposes that require minimum inflammation. However, Ca(2+), which is commonly used to crosslink alginate, is a critical second messenger in immune cell signaling, and little has been done to understand its effect on immune cell fate when delivered as a component of alginate gels. We found that dendritic cells (DCs) encapsulated in Ca(2+)-crosslinked alginate (calcium alginate) secreted at least fivefold more of the inflammatory cytokine IL-1β when compared to DCs encapsulated in agarose and collagen gels, as well as DCs plated on tissue-culture polystyrene (TCPS). Plating cells on TCPS with the alginate polymer could not reproduce these results, whereas culturing DCs on TCPS with increasing concentrations of Ca(2+) increased IL-1β, MHC class II and CD86 expression in a dose-dependent manner. In agreement with these findings, calcium alginate gels induced greater maturation of encapsulated DCs compared to barium alginate gels. When injected subcutaneously in mice, calcium alginate gels significantly upregulated IL-1β secretion from surrounding tissue relative to barium alginate gels, and similarly, the inflammatory effects of LPS were enhanced when it was delivered from calcium alginate gels rather than barium alginate gels. These results confirm that the Ca(2+) used to crosslink alginate gels can be immunostimulatory and suggest that it is important to take into account Ca(2+)'s bioactive effects on all exposed cells (both immune and non-immune) when using calcium alginate gels for biomedical purposes. This work may strongly impact the way people use alginate gels in the future as well as provide insights into past work utilizing alginate gels.
Klumpers DD, Zhao X, Mooney DJ, Smit TH. Cell mediated contraction in 3D cell-matrix constructs leads to spatially regulated osteogenic differentiation. Integr Biol (Camb). 2013;5 (9) :1174-83.Abstract
During embryonic development, morphogenetic processes give rise to a variety of shapes and patterns that lead to functional tissues and organs. While the impact of chemical signals on these processes is widely studied, the role of physical cues is less understood. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that the interplay of cell mediated contraction and mechanical boundary conditions alone can result in spatially regulated differentiation in simple 3D constructs. An experimental model consisting of a 3D cell-gel construct and a finite element (FE) model were used to study the effect of cellular traction exerted by mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) on an initially homogeneous matrix under inhomogeneous boundary conditions. A robust shape change is observed due to contraction under time-varying mechanical boundary conditions, which is explained by the finite element model. Furthermore, distinct local differences in osteogenic differentiation are observed, with a spatial pattern independent of osteogenic factors in the culture medium. Regions that are predicted to have experienced relatively high shear stress at any time during contraction correlate with the regions of distinct osteogenesis. Taken together, these results support the underlying hypothesis that cellular contractility and mechanical boundary conditions alone can result in spatially regulated differentiation. These results will have important implications for tissue engineering and regeneration.
Lui KO, Zangi L, Silva EA, Bu L, Sahara M, Li RA, Mooney DJ, Chien KR. Driving vascular endothelial cell fate of human multipotent Isl1+ heart progenitors with VEGF modified mRNA. Cell Res. 2013;23 (10) :1172-86.Abstract
Distinct families of multipotent heart progenitors play a central role in the generation of diverse cardiac, smooth muscle and endothelial cell lineages during mammalian cardiogenesis. The identification of precise paracrine signals that drive the cell-fate decision of these multipotent progenitors, and the development of novel approaches to deliver these signals in vivo, are critical steps towards unlocking their regenerative therapeutic potential. Herein, we have identified a family of human cardiac endothelial intermediates located in outflow tract of the early human fetal hearts (OFT-ECs), characterized by coexpression of Isl1 and CD144/vWF. By comparing angiocrine factors expressed by the human OFT-ECs and non-cardiac ECs, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-A was identified as the most abundantly expressed factor, and clonal assays documented its ability to drive endothelial specification of human embryonic stem cell (ESC)-derived Isl1+ progenitors in a VEGF receptor-dependent manner. Human Isl1-ECs (endothelial cells differentiated from hESC-derived ISL1+ progenitors) resemble OFT-ECs in terms of expression of the cardiac endothelial progenitor- and endocardial cell-specific genes, confirming their organ specificity. To determine whether VEGF-A might serve as an in vivo cell-fate switch for human ESC-derived Isl1-ECs, we established a novel approach using chemically modified mRNA as a platform for transient, yet highly efficient expression of paracrine factors in cardiovascular progenitors. Overexpression of VEGF-A promotes not only the endothelial specification but also engraftment, proliferation and survival (reduced apoptosis) of the human Isl1+ progenitors in vivo. The large-scale derivation of cardiac-specific human Isl1-ECs from human pluripotent stem cells, coupled with the ability to drive endothelial specification, engraftment, and survival following transplantation, suggest a novel strategy for vascular regeneration in the heart.
Brudno Y, Ennett-Shepard AB, Chen RR, Aizenberg M, Mooney DJ. Enhancing microvascular formation and vessel maturation through temporal control over multiple pro-angiogenic and pro-maturation factors. Biomaterials. 2013;34 (36) :9201-9.Abstract
Therapeutic stimulation of angiogenesis to re-establish blood flow in ischemic tissues offers great promise as a treatment for patients suffering from cardiovascular disease or trauma. Since angiogenesis is a complex, multi-step process, different signals may need to be delivered at appropriate times in order to promote a robust and mature vasculature. The effects of temporally regulated presentation of pro-angiogenic and pro-maturation factors were investigated in vitro and in vivo in this study. Pro-angiogenic factors vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and angiopoietin 2 (Ang2) cooperatively promoted endothelial sprouting and pericyte detachment in a three-dimensional in vitro EC-pericyte co-culture model. Pro-maturation factors platelet-derived growth factor B (PDGF) and angiopoietin 1 (Ang1) inhibited the early stages of VEGF- and Ang2-mediated angiogenesis if present simultaneously with VEGF and Ang2, but promoted these behaviors if added subsequently to the pro-angiogenesis factors. VEGF and Ang2 were also found to additively enhance microvessel density in a subcutaneous model of blood vessel formation, while simultaneously administered PDGF/Ang1 inhibited microvessel formation. However, a temporally controlled scaffold that released PDGF and Ang1 at a delay relative to VEGF/Ang2 promoted both vessel maturation and vascular remodeling without inhibiting sprouting angiogenesis. Our results demonstrate the importance of temporal control over signaling in promoting vascular growth, vessel maturation and vascular remodeling. Delivering multiple growth factors in combination and sequence could aid in creating tissue engineered constructs and therapies aimed at promoting healing after acute wounds and in chronic conditions such as diabetic ulcers and peripheral artery disease.
Shamis Y, Silva EA, Hewitt KJ, Brudno Y, Levenberg S, Mooney DJ, Garlick JA. Fibroblasts derived from human pluripotent stem cells activate angiogenic responses in vitro and in vivo. PLoS One. 2013;8 (12) :e83755.Abstract
Human embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells (hESC/hiPSC) are promising cell sources for the derivation of large numbers of specific cell types for tissue engineering and cell therapy applications. We have describe a directed differentiation protocol that generates fibroblasts from both hESC and hiPSC (EDK/iPDK) that support the repair and regeneration of epithelial tissue in engineered, 3D skin equivalents. In the current study, we analyzed the secretory profiles of EDK and iPDK cells to investigate the production of factors that activate and promote angiogenesis. Analysis of in vitro secretion profiles from EDK and iPDK cells demonstrated the elevated secretion of pro-angiogenic soluble mediators, including VEGF, HGF, IL-8, PDGF-AA, and Ang-1, that stimulated endothelial cell sprouting in a 3D model of angiogenesis in vitro. Phenotypic analysis of EDK and iPDK cells during the course of differentiation from hESCs and iPSCs revealed that both cell types progressively acquired pericyte lineage markers NG2, PDGFRβ, CD105, and CD73 and demonstrated transient induction of pericyte progenitor markers CD31, CD34, and Flk1/VEGFR2. Furthermore, when co-cultured with endothelial cells in 3D fibrin-based constructs, EDK and iPDK cells promoted self-assembly of vascular networks and vascular basement membrane deposition. Finally, transplantation of EDK cells into mice with hindlimb ischemia significantly reduced tissue necrosis and improved blood perfusion, demonstrating the potential of these cells to stimulate angiogenic responses in vivo. These findings demonstrate that stable populations of pericyte-like angiogenic cells can be generated with high efficiency from hESC and hiPSC using a directed differentiation approach. This provides new cell sources and opportunities for vascular tissue engineering and for the development of novel strategies in regenerative medicine.
Kearney CJ, Mooney DJ. Macroscale delivery systems for molecular and cellular payloads. Nat Mater. 2013;12 (11) :1004-17.Abstract
Macroscale drug delivery (MDD) devices are engineered to exert spatiotemporal control over the presentation of a wide range of bioactive agents, including small molecules, proteins and cells. In contrast to systemically delivered drugs, MDD systems act as a depot of drug localized to the treatment site, which can increase drug effectiveness while reducing side effects and confer protection to labile drugs. In this Review, we highlight the key advantages of MDD systems, describe their mechanisms of spatiotemporal control and provide guidelines for the selection of carrier materials. We also discuss the combination of MDD technologies with classic medical devices to create multifunctional MDD devices that improve integration with host tissue, and the use of MDD technology in tissue-engineering strategies to direct cell behaviour. As our ever-expanding knowledge of human biology and disease provides new therapeutic targets that require precise control over their application, the importance of MDD devices in medicine is expected to increase.
Ali OA, Tayalia P, Shvartsman D, Lewin S, Mooney DJ. Inflammatory cytokines presented from polymer matrices differentially generate and activate DCs in situ. Adv Funct Mater. 2013;23 (36) :4621-4628.Abstract
During infection, inflammatory cytokines mobilize and activate dendritic cells (DCs), which are essential for efficacious T cell priming and immune responses that clear the infection. Here we designed macroporous poly(lactide-co-glycolide) (PLG) matrices to release the inflammatory cytokines GM-CSF, Flt3L and CCL20, in order to mimic infection-induced DC recruitment. We then tested the ability of these infection mimics to function as cancer vaccines via induction of specific, anti-tumor T cell responses. All vaccine systems tested were able to confer specific anti-tumor T cell responses and longterm survival in a therapeutic, B16-F10 melanoma model. However, GM-CSF and Flt3L vaccines resulted in similar survival rates, and outperformed CCL20 loaded scaffolds, even though they had differential effects on DC recruitment and generation. GM-CSF signaling was identified as the most potent chemotactic factor for conventional DCs and significantly enhanced surface expression of MHC(II) and CD86(+), which are utilized for priming T cell immunity. In contrast, Flt3L vaccines led to greater numbers of plasmacytoid DCs (pDCs), correlating with increased levels of T cell priming cytokines that amplify T cell responses. These results demonstrate that 3D polymer matrices modified to present inflammatory cytokines may be utilized to effectively mobilize and activate different DC subsets in vivo for immunotherapy.
2012
Kim WS, Mooney DJ, Arany PR, Lee K, Huebsch N, Kim J. Adipose tissue engineering using injectable, oxidized alginate hydrogels. Tissue Eng Part A. 2012;18 (7-8) :737-43.Abstract
Current treatment modalities for soft tissue augmentation which use autologous grafting and commercially available fillers present a number of challenges and limitations, such as donor site morbidity and volume loss over time. Adipose tissue engineering technology may provide an attractive alternative. This study investigated the feasibility of a degradable alginate hydrogel system with commercially available cryopreserved human adipose stem cells (hADSCs) to engineer adipose tissue. hADSCs were differentiated into adipogenic cells, and encapsulated in alginate hydrogels made susceptible to hydrolysis by partial periodate oxidation of the polymer chains. Cell laden gels were subcutaneously injected into the chest wall of male nude mice, and a cell suspension without alginate served as control. After 10 weeks, specimens were harvested and analyzed morphologically, histologically, and with immunoblotting of tissue extractions. Newly generated tissues were semitransparent and soft in all experimental mice, grossly resembling adipose tissue. Analysis using confocal live imaging, immunohistochemisty and western blot analysis revealed that the newly generated tissue was adipose tissue. This study demonstrates that degradable, injectable alginate hydrogels provide a suitable delivery vehicle for preconditioned cryopreserved hADSCs to engineer adipose tissue.
La Gerche A, Burns AT, Mooney DJ, Inder WJ, Taylor AJ, Bogaert J, Macisaac AI, Heidbüchel H, Prior DL. Exercise-induced right ventricular dysfunction and structural remodelling in endurance athletes. Eur Heart J. 2012;33 (8) :998-1006.Abstract
AIMS: Endurance training may be associated with arrhythmogenic cardiac remodelling of the right ventricle (RV). We examined whether myocardial dysfunction following intense endurance exercise affects the RV more than the left ventricle (LV) and whether cumulative exposure to endurance competition influences cardiac remodelling (including fibrosis) in well-trained athletes. METHODS AND RESULTS: Forty athletes were studied at baseline, immediately following an endurance race (3-11 h duration) and 1-week post-race. Evaluation included cardiac troponin (cTnI), B-type natriuretic peptide, and echocardiography [including three-dimensional volumes, ejection fraction (EF), and systolic strain rate]. Delayed gadolinium enhancement (DGE) on cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (CMR) was assessed as a marker of myocardial fibrosis. Relative to baseline, RV volumes increased and all functional measures decreased post-race, whereas LV volumes reduced and function was preserved. B-type natriuretic peptide (13.1 ± 14.0 vs. 25.4 ± 21.4 ng/L, P = 0.003) and cTnI (0.01 ± .03 vs. 0.14 ± .17 μg/L, P < 0.0001) increased post-race and correlated with reductions in RVEF (r = 0.52, P = 0.001 and r = 0.49, P = 0.002, respectively), but not LVEF. Right ventricular ejection fraction decreased with increasing race duration (r = -0.501, P < 0.0001) and VO(2)max (r = -0.359, P = 0.011). Right ventricular function mostly recovered by 1 week. On CMR, DGE localized to the interventricular septum was identified in 5 of 39 athletes who had greater cumulative exercise exposure and lower RVEF (47.1 ± 5.9 vs. 51.1 ± 3.7%, P = 0.042) than those with normal CMR. CONCLUSION: Intense endurance exercise causes acute dysfunction of the RV, but not the LV. Although short-term recovery appears complete, chronic structural changes and reduced RV function are evident in some of the most practiced athletes, the long-term clinical significance of which warrants further study.
Chaudhuri O, Mooney DJ. Stem-cell differentiation: Anchoring cell-fate cues. Nat Mater. 2012;11 (7) :568-9.
Malhotra D, Fletcher AL, Astarita J, Lukacs-Kornek V, Tayalia P, Gonzalez SF, Elpek KG, Chang SK, Knoblich K, Hemler ME, et al. Transcriptional profiling of stroma from inflamed and resting lymph nodes defines immunological hallmarks. Nat Immunol. 2012;13 (5) :499-510.Abstract
Lymph node stromal cells (LNSCs) closely regulate immunity and self-tolerance, yet key aspects of their biology remain poorly elucidated. Here, comparative transcriptomic analyses of mouse LNSC subsets demonstrated the expression of important immune mediators, growth factors and previously unknown structural components. Pairwise analyses of ligands and cognate receptors across hematopoietic and stromal subsets suggested a complex web of crosstalk. Fibroblastic reticular cells (FRCs) showed enrichment for higher expression of genes relevant to cytokine signaling, relative to their expression in skin and thymic fibroblasts. LNSCs from inflamed lymph nodes upregulated expression of genes encoding chemokines and molecules involved in the acute-phase response and the antigen-processing and antigen-presentation machinery. Poorly studied podoplanin (gp38)-negative CD31(-) LNSCs showed similarities to FRCs but lacked expression of interleukin 7 (IL-7) and were identified as myofibroblastic pericytes that expressed integrin α(7). Together our data comprehensively describe the transcriptional characteristics of LNSC subsets.
Lee KY, Mooney DJ. Alginate: properties and biomedical applications. Prog Polym Sci. 2012;37 (1) :106-126.Abstract
Alginate is a biomaterial that has found numerous applications in biomedical science and engineering due to its favorable properties, including biocompatibility and ease of gelation. Alginate hydrogels have been particularly attractive in wound healing, drug delivery, and tissue engineering applications to date, as these gels retain structural similarity to the extracellular matrices in tissues and can be manipulated to play several critical roles. This review will provide a comprehensive overview of general properties of alginate and its hydrogels, their biomedical applications, and suggest new perspectives for future studies with these polymers.
Mehta M, Schmidt-Bleek K, Duda GN, Mooney DJ. Biomaterial delivery of morphogens to mimic the natural healing cascade in bone. Adv Drug Deliv Rev. 2012;64 (12) :1257-76.Abstract
Complications in treatment of large bone defects using bone grafting still remain. Our understanding of the endogenous bone regeneration cascade has inspired the exploration of a wide variety of growth factors (GFs) in an effort to mimic the natural signaling that controls bone healing. Biomaterial-based delivery of single exogenous GFs has shown therapeutic efficacy, and this likely relates to its ability to recruit and promote replication of cells involved in tissue development and the healing process. However, as the natural bone healing cascade involves the action of multiple factors, each acting in a specific spatiotemporal pattern, strategies aiming to mimic the critical aspects of this process will likely benefit from the usage of multiple therapeutic agents. This article reviews the current status of approaches to deliver single GFs, as well as ongoing efforts to develop sophisticated delivery platforms to deliver multiple lineage-directing morphogens (multiple GFs) during bone healing.
Sun J-Y, Zhao X, Illeperuma WRK, Chaudhuri O, Oh KH, Mooney DJ, Vlassak JJ, Suo Z. Highly stretchable and tough hydrogels. Nature. 2012;489 (7414) :133-6.Abstract
Hydrogels are used as scaffolds for tissue engineering, vehicles for drug delivery, actuators for optics and fluidics, and model extracellular matrices for biological studies. The scope of hydrogel applications, however, is often severely limited by their mechanical behaviour. Most hydrogels do not exhibit high stretchability; for example, an alginate hydrogel ruptures when stretched to about 1.2 times its original length. Some synthetic elastic hydrogels have achieved stretches in the range 10-20, but these values are markedly reduced in samples containing notches. Most hydrogels are brittle, with fracture energies of about 10 J m(-2) (ref. 8), as compared with ∼1,000 J m(-2) for cartilage and ∼10,000 J m(-2) for natural rubbers. Intense efforts are devoted to synthesizing hydrogels with improved mechanical properties; certain synthetic gels have reached fracture energies of 100-1,000 J m(-2) (refs 11, 14, 17). Here we report the synthesis of hydrogels from polymers forming ionically and covalently crosslinked networks. Although such gels contain ∼90% water, they can be stretched beyond 20 times their initial length, and have fracture energies of ∼9,000 J m(-2). Even for samples containing notches, a stretch of 17 is demonstrated. We attribute the gels' toughness to the synergy of two mechanisms: crack bridging by the network of covalent crosslinks, and hysteresis by unzipping the network of ionic crosslinks. Furthermore, the network of covalent crosslinks preserves the memory of the initial state, so that much of the large deformation is removed on unloading. The unzipped ionic crosslinks cause internal damage, which heals by re-zipping. These gels may serve as model systems to explore mechanisms of deformation and energy dissipation, and expand the scope of hydrogel applications.
Bencherif SA, Sands WR, Bhatta D, Arany P, Verbeke CS, Edwards DA, Mooney DJ. Injectable preformed scaffolds with shape-memory properties. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012;109 (48) :19590-5.Abstract
Injectable biomaterials are increasingly being explored to minimize risks and complications associated with surgical implantation. We describe a strategy for delivery via conventional needle-syringe injection of large preformed macroporous scaffolds with well-defined properties. Injectable 3D scaffolds, in the form of elastic sponge-like matrices, were prepared by environmentally friendly cryotropic gelation of a naturally sourced polymer. Cryogels with shape-memory properties may be molded to a variety of shapes and sizes, and may be optionally loaded with therapeutic agents or cells. These scaffolds have the capability to withstand reversible deformations at over 90% strain level, and a rapid volumetric recovery allows the structurally defined scaffolds to be injected through a small-bore needle with nearly complete geometric restoration once delivered. These gels demonstrated long-term release of biomolecules in vivo. Furthermore, cryogels impregnated with bioluminescent reporter cells provided enhanced survival, higher local retention, and extended engraftment of transplanted cells at the injection site compared with a standard injection technique. These injectable scaffolds show great promise for various biomedical applications, including cell therapies.
Khormaee S, Ali OA, Chodosh J, Mooney DJ. Optimizing siRNA efficacy through alteration in the target cell-adhesion substrate interaction. J Biomed Mater Res A. 2012;100 (10) :2637-43.Abstract
The clinical potential of short interfering RNA (siRNA) based therapeutics remains hindered by the challenge of delivering enough siRNA into the cytoplasm to yield a clinically relevant effect. Although much research has focused on optimizing delivery vehicles for this class of molecules, considerably less is known about the microenvironmental influences on the response of target cells to siRNA. The substrate to which cells adhere is one component of the microenvironment that can modulate cellular behavior. Here, we tested the hypothesis that modulating the properties of cellular adhesion substrates can alter siRNA efficacy. Specifically, cationic lipid complexed siRNA particles were applied to U251 cells seeded on alginate hydrogel surfaces with systematic variation in elastic modulus and integrin ligand arginine-glycine-aspartate (RGD) peptide density. These experiments revealed no change in siRNA-mediated eGFP knockdown over the elastic modulus range tested (53-133 kPa). However, an eightfold increase in RGD content of the alginate growth substrate resulted in an increase in siRNA knockdown efficacy from 25 ± 12% to 52 ± 10%, a more than twofold increase in silencing. Our results identify control of the cell-adhesion substrate interaction as a modulator of siRNA protein silencing efficacy.
Yuen WW, Du NR, Shvartsman D, Arany PR, Lam H, Mooney DJ. Statistical platform to discern spatial and temporal coordination of endothelial sprouting. Integr Biol (Camb). 2012;4 (3) :292-300.Abstract
Many biological processes, including angiogenesis, involve intercellular feedback and temporal coordination, but inference of these relations is often drowned in low sample sizes or noisy population data. To address this issue, a methodology was developed to statistically study spatial lateral inhibition and temporal synchronization in one specific biological process, endothelial sprouting mediated by Notch signaling. Notch plays an essential role in the development of organized vasculature, but the effects of Notch on the temporal characteristics of angiogenesis are not well understood. Results from this study showed that Notch lateral inhibition operates at distances less than 31 μm. Furthermore, combining time lapse microscopy with an intraclass correlation model typically used to analyze family data showed intrinsic temporal synchronization among endothelial sprouts originating from the same microcarrier. Such synchronization was reduced with Notch inhibitors, but was enhanced with the addition of Notch ligands. These results indicate that Notch plays a critical role in the temporal regulation of angiogenesis, as well as spatial control, and this method of analysis will be of significant utility in studies of a variety of other biological processes.

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