skip to main content


The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 5:00 PM ET until 11:00 PM ET on Friday, June 21 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.

This content will become publicly available on July 12, 2024

Title: Matrix Degradability Contributes to the Development of Salivary Gland Progenitor Cells with Secretory Functions
Synthetic matrices that are cytocompatible, cell adhesive and cell responsive are needed for the engineering of implantable, secretory salivary gland constructs to treat radiation induced xerostomia or dry mouth. Here, taking advantage of the bioorthogonality of the Michael-type addition reaction, hydrogels with comparable stiffness but varying degrees of degradability (100% degradable: 100DEG; 50% degradable: 50DEG; and non-degradable: 0DEG) by cell-secreted matrix metalloproteases (MMPs) were synthesized using thiolated HA (HA-SH), maleimide (MI)-conjugated integrin-binding peptide (RGD-MI) and MI-functionalized peptide crosslinkers that are protease degradable (GIW-bisMI) or non-degradable (GIQ-bisMI). Organized multicellular structures developed readily in all hydrogels from dispersed primary human salivary gland stem/progenitor cells (hS/PCs). As the matrix became progressively degradable, cells proliferated more readily and the multicellular structures became larger, less spherical, and more lobular. Immunocytochemical analysis showed positive staining for stem/progenitor cell markers CD44 and keratin 5 (K5) in all three types of cultures, and positive staining for the acinar marker α-amylase under 50DEG and 100DEG conditions. Quantitatively at the mRNA level, the expression levels of key stem/progenitor markers KIT, KRT5, and ETV4/5 were significantly increased in the degradable gels as compared to the non-degradable counterparts. Western blot analyses revealed that imparting matrix degradation led to >3.8-fold increase in KIT expression by day 15. The MMP-degradable hydrogels also promoted the development of a secretary phenotype, as evidenced by the upregulation of acinar markers α-amylase (AMY), aquaporin-5 (AQP5), and sodium-potassium-chloride cotransporter 1 (SLC12A2). Collectively, we show that cell-mediated matrix remodeling is necessary for the development of regenerative pro-acinar progenitor cells from hS/PCs.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ;
Publisher / Repository:
Date Published:
Journal Name:
ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces
Page Range / eLocation ID:
32148 to 32161
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Successful engineering of functional salivary glands necessitates the creation of cell‐instructive environments for ex vivo expansion and lineage specification of primary human salivary gland stem cells (hS/PCs). Herein, basement membrane mimetic hydrogels are prepared using hyaluronic acid, cell adhesive peptides, and hyperbranched polyglycerol (HPG), with or without sulfate groups, to produce “hyperGel+” or “hyperGel”, respectively. Differential scanning fluorescence experiments confirm the ability of the sulfated HPG precursor to stabilize fibroblast growth factor 10. The hydrogels are nanoporous, cytocompatible, and cell‐permissive, enabling the development of multicellular hS/PC spheroids in 14 days. The incorporation of sulfated HPG species in the hydrogel enhances cell proliferation. Culture of hS/PCs in hyperGel+ in the presence of a Rho kinase inhibitor Y‐27632 (Y‐27) leads to the development of spheroids with a central lumen, increases the expression of acinar marker aquaporin‐3 at the transcript level (AQP3), and decreases the expression of ductal marker keratin 7 at both the transcript (KRT7) and the protein levels (K7). Reduced expression of transforming growth factor beta (TGF‐β) targets SMAD2/3 is also observed in Y27‐treated cultures, suggesting attenuation of TGF‐β signaling. Thus, hyperGel+ cooperates with the Rho‐associated protein kinase inhibitor to promote the development of lumened spheroids with enhanced expression of acinar markers.

    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    Neural stem/progenitor cell (NS/PC)‐based therapies have shown exciting potential for regeneration of the central nervous system (CNS) and NS/PC cultures represent an important resource for disease modeling and drug screening. However, significant challenges limiting clinical translation remain, such as generating large numbers of cells required for model cultures or transplantation, maintaining physiologically representative phenotypesex vivoand directing NS/PC differentiation into specific fates. Here, we report that culture of human NS/PCs in 3D, hyaluronic acid (HA)‐rich biomaterial microenvironments increased differentiation toward oligodendrocytes and neurons over 2D cultures on laminin‐coated glass. Moreover, NS/PCs in 3D culture exhibited a significant reduction in differentiation into reactive astrocytes. Many NS/PC‐derived neurons in 3D, HA‐based hydrogels expressed synaptophysin, indicating synapse formation, and displayed electrophysiological characteristics of immature neurons. While inclusion of integrin‐binding, RGD peptides into hydrogels resulted in a modest increase in numbers of viable NS/PCs, no combination of laminin‐derived, adhesive peptides affected differentiation outcomes. Notably, 3D cultures of differentiating NS/PCs were maintained for at least 70 days in medium with minimal growth factor supplementation. In sum, results demonstrate the use of 3D, HA‐based biomaterials for long‐term expansion and differentiation of NS/PCs toward oligodendroglial and neuronal fates, while inhibiting astroglial fates. © 2019 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res Part A: 107A: 704–718, 2019.

    more » « less
  3. Synthetic matrices with dynamic presentation of cell guidance cues are needed for the development of physiologically relevant in vitro tumor models. Towards the goal of mimicking prostate cancer progression and metastasis, we engineered a tunable hyaluronic acid-based hydrogel platform with protease degradable and cell adhesive properties employing bioorthogonal tetrazine ligation with strained alkenes. The synthetic matrix was first fabricated via a slow tetrazine-norbornene reaction, then temporally modified via a diffusion-controlled method using trans-cyclooctene, a fierce dienophile that reacts with tetrazine with an unusually fast rate. The encapsulated DU145 prostate cancer single cells spontaneously formed multicellular tumoroids after 7 days of culture. In situ modification of the synthetic matrix via covalent tagging of cell adhesive RGD peptide induced tumoroid decompaction and the development of cellular protrusions. RGD tagging did not compromise the overall cell viability, nor did it induce cell apoptosis. In response to increased matrix adhesiveness, DU145 cells dynamically loosen cell-cell adhesion and strengthen cell-matrix interactions to promote an invasive phenotype. Characterization of the 3D cultures by immunocytochemistry and gene expression analyses demonstrated that cells invaded into the matrix via a mesenchymal like migration, with upregulation of major mesenchymal markers, and down regulation of epithelial markers. The tumoroids formed cortactin positive invadopodia like structures, indicating active matrix remodeling. Overall, the engineered tumor model can be utilized to identify potential molecular targets and test pharmacological inhibitors, thereby accelerating the design of innovative strategies for cancer therapeutics. 
    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) reside in the bone marrow within niches that provide microenvironmental signals in the form of biophysical cues, bound and diffusible biomolecules, and heterotypic cell–cell interactions that influence HSC fate decisions. This study seeks to inform the development of a synthetic culture platform that promotes ex vivo HSC expansion without exhaustion. A library of methacrylamide‐functionalized gelatin (GelMA) hydrogels is used to explore remodeling and crosstalk from mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) on the expansion and quiescence of murine HSCs. The use of a degradable GelMA hydrogel enables MSC‐mediated remodeling, yielding dynamic shifts in the matrix environment over time. An initially low‐diffusivity hydrogel for co‐culture of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells to MSCs facilitates maintenance of an early progenitor cell population over 7 days. Excitingly, this platform promotes retention of a quiescent HSC population compared to HSC monocultures. These studies reveal MSC‐density–dependent upregulation of MMP‐9 and changes in hydrogel mechanical properties (ΔE= 2.61 ± 0.72) suggesting MSC‐mediated matrix remodeling may contribute to a dynamic culture environment. Herein, a 3D hydrogel is reported for ex vivo HSC culture, in which HSC expansion and quiescence is sensitive to hydrogel properties, MSC co‐culture, and MSC‐mediated hydrogel remodeling.

    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    The transmembrane glycoprotein N‐cadherin (NCad) mediates cell–cell interactions found during mesenchymal condensation and chondrogenesis. Here, NCad‐derived peptides (i.e., HAV) are incorporated into hyaluronic acid (HA) hydrogels with encapsulated mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). Since the dose and timing of NCad signaling are dynamic, HAV peptide presentation is tuned via alterations in peptide concentration and incorporation of an ADAM10‐cleavable domain between the hydrogel and the HAV motif, respectively. HA hydrogels functionalized with HAV result in dose‐dependent increases in early chondrogenesis of encapsulated MSCs and resultant cartilage matrix production. For example, type II collagen and glycosaminoglycan production increase ≈9‐ and 2‐fold with the highest dose of HAV (i.e., 2 × 10−3m), respectively, when compared to unmodified hydrogels, while incorporation of an efficient ADAM10‐cleavable domain between the HAV peptide and hydrogel abolishes increases in chondrogenesis and matrix production. Treatment with a small‐molecule ADAM10 inhibitor restores the functional effect of the HAV peptide, indicating that timing and duration of HAV peptide presentation is crucial for robust chondrogenesis. This study demonstrates a nuanced approach to the biofunctionalization of hydrogels to better emulate the complex cell microenvironment during embryogenesis toward stem‐cell‐based cartilage production.

    more » « less