A complex array of signals are received by living cells from their surrounding environment and these signals direct cells to proliferate, differentiate, migrate, or apoptose. We are exploring new approaches for studying the nature of these signals from the extracellular matrix and how cells process them. One approach includes the use of self-assembled alkanethiol monolayers and soft lithography patterning of cell adhesion proteins to control cell shape and intracellular signal processing and gene expression. Three-dimensional organization of cells and matrix can also be studied with materials developed in our laboratory. Intracellular signaling response of cells to two-dimensional versus three-dimensional growth conditions could be studied with mammary epithelium and with vascular endothelial cells. Approaches to these studies would include the application of immunohistochemistry and quantitative fluorescence microscopy, AFM, molecular biology techniques, and statistic methods such as principle component analysis.
Atomic force microscopy; Cell signaling; Extracellular matrix proteins; Lithography (optical) (soft); Tissue engineering;