A New Microengineered Platform for 4D Tracking of Single Cells in a Stem-Cell-Based In Vitro Morphogenesis Model

Pinak Samal Philipp Maurer Clemens van Blitterswijk Roman Truckenmüller Stefan Giselbrecht

Published: 01/01/2020


Recently developed stem‐cell‐based in vitro models of morphogenesis can help shed light on the mechanisms involved in embryonic patterning. These models are showcased using traditional cell culture platforms and materials, which allow limited control over the biological system and usually do not support high‐content imaging. In contrast, using advanced microengineered tools can help in microscale control, long‐term culture, and real‐time data acquisition from such biological models and aid in elucidating the underlying mechanisms. Here, a new culturing, manipulation and analysis platform is described to study in vitro morphogenesis using thin polycarbonate film‐based microdevices. A pipeline consisting of open‐source software to quantify 3D cell movement using 4D image acquisition is developed to analyze cell migration within the multicellular clusters. It is shown that the platform can be used to control and study morphogenesis in non‐adherent cultures of the P19C5 mouse stem cell line and mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs) that show symmetry breaking and axial elongation events similar to early embryonic development. Using the new platform, it is found that localized cell proliferation and coordinated cell migration result in elongation morphogenesis of the P19C5 aggregates. Further, it is found that polarization and elongation of mESC aggregates are dependent on directed cell migration.

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