Pericyte mechanics.

Olga’s paper appeared in Stem Cell Reports, reporting on the particular mechanoresponse of pericytes, that might be related to their function.

Fibronectin Patches as Anchoring Points for Force Sensing and Transmission in Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Pericytes.

Pericytes (PCs) have been reported to contribute to the mechanoregulation of the capillary diameter and blood flow in health and disease. How this is realized remains poorly understood. We designed several models representing basement membrane (BM) in between PCs and endothelial cells (ECs). These models captured a unique protein organization with micron-sized FN patches surrounded by laminin (LM) and allowed to obtain quantitative information on PC morphology and contractility. Using human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived PCs, we could address mechanical aspects of mid-capillary PC behavior in vitro. Our results showed that PCs strongly prefer FN patches over LM for adhesion formation, have an optimal stiffness for spreading in the range of EC rigidity, and react in a non-canonical way with increased traction forces and reduced spreading on other stiffness then the optimal. Our approach opens possibilities to further study PC force regulation under well-controlled conditions.

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