Geometric guidance of integrin mediated traction stress during stem cell differentiation

Junmin Lee, Amr A. Abdeen, Xin Tang, Taher A. Saif, Kristopher A. Kilian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cells sense and transduce the chemical and mechanical properties of their microenvironment through cell surface integrin receptors. Traction stress exerted by cells on the extracellular matrix mediates focal adhesion stabilization and regulation of the cytoskeleton for directing biological activity. Understanding how stem cells integrate biomaterials properties through focal adhesions during differentiation is important for the design of soft materials for regenerative medicine. In this paper we use micropatterned hydrogels containing fluorescent beads to explore force transmission through integrins from single mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) during differentiation. When cultured on polyacrylamide gels, MSCs will express markers associated with osteogenesis and myogenesis in a stiffness dependent manner. The shape of single cells and the composition of tethered matrix protein both influence the magnitude of traction stress applied and the resultant differentiation outcome. We show how geometry guides the spatial positioning of focal adhesions to maximize interaction with the matrix, and uncover a relationship between αvβ3, α5β1 and mechanochemical regulation of osteogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)174-183
Number of pages10
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015


  • Differentiation
  • Integrin
  • Mesenchymal stem cells
  • Microenvironment
  • Traction stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Biophysics
  • Biomaterials
  • Mechanics of Materials


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