Department of

Chemical Engineering

Designing molecular technology for the 21st century with biology and chemistry

Spring 2010 Seminars

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Physicochemical Control of Cell Migration Using
Engineered Extracellular Matrices

Shelly R. Peyton
Department of Biological Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Tuesday, March 16, 2010
10:00 a.m. 11:00 a.m.
102 Chemistry Building

Cell migration is a tightly regulated process, driven by soluble growth factors (chemotaxis), insoluble cell-adhesive proteins (haptotaxis), cell-cell interactions, and most recently, mechanical cues (durotaxis). These cues are often dynamic, and are known regulators of migratory phenotype in a variety of cell types throughout the body.

At sites of tissue damage and regeneration, such as in wounds, these cues often appear in gradients, coercing immune cells, fibroblasts, or progenitor cells to the sites of repair. In normally quiescent tissues, organized matrix and strong cell-cell contacts cooperate to inhibit local cell migration.

In stark contrast, pathological tissue niches (e.g. diseased arteries, tumor stroma) often contain disorganized matrix and disrupted cell-cell contacts, driving improper migration and disastrous consequences. Recent efforts to decipher how the extracellular matrix (ECM) is able to biophysically and biochemically regulate cell migration have exploited several natural and synthetic biomaterials to create in vitro ECM analogs.

I will be discussing how we, as engineers, can create simple, yet elegant mimics of the ECM with rationally designed biomaterial model systems to study how a diverse environment of biophysical and biochemical cues (such as tissue elasticity, adhesivity, and geometry) can regulate cell migration in vitro. These physicochemically tunable materials can provide a powerful platform for signaling studies as well as help guide rational scaffold design for regenerative medicine applications.

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