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Contact guidance in vitro a light microscopic transmission electron microscopic and scanning electron microscopic study



Contact guidance in vitro a light microscopic transmission electron microscopic and scanning electron microscopic study



Experimental Cell Research 121(2): 235-250



Contact guidance was studied in cultures of chick heart fibroblasts and [mouse and guinea pig] kidney epithelium by observing the relation of these cells to fine grooves ruled in plastic culture dishes, and also to ridges or grooves in plastic replicas moulded from rulings made in metal. The relation of cells to the regularly arranged collagen fibers of fish scales was also studied by scanning (SEM] and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). On the rulings with groove periodicity in the range of 5 .mu.m .apprx. 75% of the cells were aligned, but on grooves separated about 30 .mu.m only 60% of cells were aligned. Cytoplasmic components of the cells such as microfilaments maintained a constant relation to the axis of cell as a whole, but they, and also any cytoplasmic extensions, such as filopodia, were not related to any features of the substratum, whether or not the cells were aligned. The cells were not guided to become aligned by filopodia or lamellipodia. The most remarkable and consistent finding was that cells bridged over grooves without contacting their surfaces, whether the grooves were 2 or 10 .mu.m wide. The bridging was a characteristic of cells growing on any of the substrates, including those with grooves or ridges, and also of collagen substrates made from fish scales. The observed cell bridging linear cell-to-substrate contacts (focal contacts) are vital for cell movement. The cell is considered to be stiff so that as it bridges over much of the substratum only a limited area is available for contact. Assuming that focal contact are of a certain length to provide adhesion, a cell orientation that presents the maximum linear contact is favored. Cells on these types of substrata take on an orientation such that linear contacts are expected predominate.

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