Micro-engineered “pillar forests” to study cell migration in complex but controlled 3D environments Book Section

Author(s): Renkawitz, Jörg; Reversat, Anne; Leithner. Alex; Merrin, Jack; Sixt, Michael
Article/Chapter Title: Micro-engineered “pillar forests” to study cell migration in complex but controlled 3D environments
Affiliation IST Austria
Abstract: Cells migrating in multicellular organisms steadily traverse complex three-dimensional (3D) environments. To decipher the underlying cell biology, current experimental setups either use simplified 2D, tissue-mimetic 3D (e.g., collagen matrices) or in vivo environments. While only in vivo experiments are truly physiological, they do not allow for precise manipulation of environmental parameters. 2D in vitro experiments do allow mechanical and chemical manipulations, but increasing evidence demonstrates substantial differences of migratory mechanisms in 2D and 3D. Here, we describe simple, robust, and versatile “pillar forests” to investigate cell migration in complex but fully controllable 3D environments. Pillar forests are polydimethylsiloxane-based setups, in which two closely adjacent surfaces are interconnected by arrays of micrometer-sized pillars. Changing the pillar shape, size, height and the inter-pillar distance precisely manipulates microenvironmental parameters (e.g., pore sizes, micro-geometry, micro-topology), while being easily combined with chemotactic cues, surface coatings, diverse cell types and advanced imaging techniques. Thus, pillar forests combine the advantages of 2D cell migration assays with the precise definition of 3D environmental parameters.
Keywords: leukocyte; Cytoskeleton; Three-dimensional; dendritic cell; fibroblast; Cancer cell; Collagen matrix; Interstitium; Microenvironment; Pores
Book Title: Methods in Cell Biology
Volume: 147
ISBN: 978-012814282-0
Publisher: Academic Press  
Date Published: 2018-07-27
Start Page: 79
End Page: 91
DOI: 10.1016/bs.mcb.2018.07.004
Open access: no