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The mechanical sensitivity of vesicle dynamics in in vivo and in vitro neurons

W. Ahmed, T. Li, S. Rubakhin, A. Chiba, J. Sweedler, T.A. Saif
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, US

Keywords: cell mechanics, neuron, vesicle, mechanotransduction, stretching device


To study the mechanical response of both in vivo and in vitro neurons, we have developed a novel platform for in-situ high-resolution live-imaging of cells and tissues under applied mechanical strain. The system is capable of applying tensile and compressive strain (up to 45%) as was characterized experimentally by digital image correlation, and computationally by the finite element method [W. Ahmed et al Acta Biomat 2010]. Our system allows dynamic studies of cellular and subcellular structures in cells and tissues with high spatial and temporal resolution. Here we present the results of two new investigations: (1) Tension induced synaptic vesicle accumulation in in vivo Drosophila motor neurons. (2) Compression induced disruption of vesicle transport in in vitro Aplysia neurons. Here we investigated the subcellular dynamics of in vitro and in vivo neurons in response to mechanical stimulation to study the role of mechanics in neuronal function. Our system allows studies of living cells by direct observation of subcellular structures under precise mechanical stimulation, which will contribute to elucidating the underlying molecular mechanisms of mechanically induced biochemical signaling.
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