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  1. Abstract Introduction

    Traction force microscopy (TFM) is a widely used technique to measure cell contractility on compliant substrates that mimic the stiffness of human tissues. For every step in a TFM workflow, users make choices which impact the quantitative results, yet many times the rationales and consequences for making these decisions are unclear. We have found few papers which show the complete experimental and mathematical steps of TFM, thus obfuscating the full effects of these decisions on the final output.

    Methods

    Therefore, we present this “Field Guide” with the goal to explain the mathematical basis of common TFM methods to practitioners in an accessible way. We specifically focus on how errors propagate in TFM workflows given specific experimental design and analytical choices.

    Results

    We cover important assumptions and considerations in TFM substrate manufacturing, substrate mechanical properties, imaging techniques, image processing methods, approaches and parameters used in calculating traction stress, and data-reporting strategies.

    Conclusions

    By presenting a conceptual review and analysis of TFM-focused research articles published over the last two decades, we provide researchers in the field with a better understanding of their options to make more informed choices when creating TFM workflows depending on the type of cell being studied. With this review, we aim to empower experimentalists to quantify cell contractility with confidence.

     
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  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2024
  3. ABSTRACT

    Cytosolic Ca2+ is a highly dynamic, tightly regulated and broadly conserved cellular signal. Ca2+ dynamics have been studied widely in cellular monocultures, yet organs in vivo comprise heterogeneous populations of stem and differentiated cells. Here, we examine Ca2+ dynamics in the adult Drosophila intestine, a self-renewing epithelial organ in which stem cells continuously produce daughters that differentiate into either enteroendocrine cells or enterocytes. Live imaging of whole organs ex vivo reveals that stem-cell daughters adopt strikingly distinct patterns of Ca2+ oscillations after differentiation: enteroendocrine cells exhibit single-cell Ca2+ oscillations, whereas enterocytes exhibit rhythmic, long-range Ca2+ waves. These multicellular waves do not propagate through immature progenitors (stem cells and enteroblasts), of which the oscillation frequency is approximately half that of enteroendocrine cells. Organ-scale inhibition of gap junctions eliminates Ca2+ oscillations in all cell types – even, intriguingly, in progenitor and enteroendocrine cells that are surrounded only by enterocytes. Our findings establish that cells adopt fate-specific modes of Ca2+ dynamics as they terminally differentiate and reveal that the oscillatory dynamics of different cell types in a single, coherent epithelium are paced independently.

     
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  4. null (Ed.)
  5. The use of bacteriophages (phages) for antibacterial therapy is under increasing consideration to treat antimicrobial-resistant infections. Phages have evolved multiple mechanisms to target their bacterial hosts, such as high-affinity, environmentally hardy receptor-binding proteins. However, traditional phage therapy suffers from multiple challenges stemming from the use of an exponentially replicating, evolving entity whose biology is not fully characterized (e.g., potential gene transduction). To address this problem, we conjugate the phages to gold nanorods, creating a reagent that can be destroyed upon use (termed “phanorods”). Chimeric phages were engineered to attach specifically to several Gram-negative organisms, including the human pathogens Escherichia coli , Pseudomonas aeruginosa , and Vibrio cholerae , and the plant pathogen Xanthomonas campestris . The bioconjugated phanorods could selectively target and kill specific bacterial cells using photothermal ablation. Following excitation by near-infrared light, gold nanorods release energy through nonradiative decay pathways, locally generating heat that efficiently kills targeted bacterial cells. Specificity was highlighted in the context of a P. aeruginosa biofilm, in which phanorod irradiation killed bacterial cells while causing minimal damage to epithelial cells. Local temperature and viscosity measurements revealed highly localized and selective ablation of the bacteria. Irradiation of the phanorods also destroyed the phages, preventing replication and reducing potential risks of traditional phage therapy while enabling control over dosing. The phanorod strategy integrates the highly evolved targeting strategies of phages with the photothermal properties of gold nanorods, creating a well-controlled platform for systematic killing of bacterial cells. 
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  6. Shear forces between cells occur during global changes in multicellular organization during morphogenesis and tissue growth, yet how cells sense shear forces and propagate a response across a tissue is unknown. We found that applying exogenous shear at the midline of an epithelium induced a local, short-term deformation near the shear plane, and a long-term collective oscillatory movement across the epithelium that spread from the shear-plane and gradually dampened. Inhibiting actomyosin contraction or E-cadherin trans-cell adhesion blocked oscillations, whereas stabilizing actin filaments prolonged oscillations. Combining these data with a model of epithelium mechanics supports a mechanism involving the generation of a shear-induced mechanical event at the shear plane which is then relayed across the epithelium by actomyosin contraction linked through E-cadherin. This causes an imbalance of forces in the epithelium, which is gradually dissipated through oscillatory cell movements and actin filament turnover to restore the force balance across the epithelium. 
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