Calculating Cell Interaction
The effect that growth factors such as epidermal growth factor (EGF) have on cell-cell adhesion is of interest in the study of cellular processes such as epithelial-mesenchymal transition. Because cell-cell adhesions cannot be measured directly, we use three-dimensional traction force microscopy to measure the tractions applied by clusters of MCF-10A cells to a compliant substrate beneath them before and after stimulating the cells with EGF. To better interpret the results, a finite element model, which simulates a cluster of individual cells adhered to one another and to the substrate with linear springs, is developed to better understand the mechanical interaction between the cells in the experiments. The experiments and simulations show that the cluster of cells acts collectively as a single unit, indicating that cell-cell adhesion remains strong before and after stimulation with EGF. In addition, the experiments and model emphasize the importance of three-dimensional measurements and analysis in these experiments.
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