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Biophysical journal

Influence of type I collagen surface density on fibroblast spreading, motility, and contractility.


PMID 14581234

Abstract

We examine the relationships of three variables (projected area, migration speed, and traction force) at various type I collagen surface densities in a population of fibroblasts. We observe that cell area is initially an increasing function of ligand density, but that above a certain transition level, increases in surface collagen cause cell area to decline. The threshold collagen density that separates these two qualitatively different regimes, approximately 160 molecules/ microm(2), is approximately equal to the cell surface density of integrin molecules. These results suggest a model in which collagen density induces a qualitative transition in the fundamental way that fibroblasts interact with the substrate. At low density, the availability of collagen binding sites is limiting and the cells simply try to flatten as much as possible by pulling on the few available sites as hard as they can. The force per bond under these conditions approaches 100 pN, approximately equal to the force required for rupture of integrin-peptide bonds. In contrast, at high collagen density adhesion, traction force and motility are limited by the availability of free integrins on the cell surface since so many of these receptors are bound to the surface ligand and the force per bond is very low.

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