A key feature of multicellular systems is the ability of cells to function collectively in response to external stimuli. However, the mechanisms of intercellular cell signaling and their functional implications in diverse vascular structures are poorly understood. Using a combination of computational modeling and plasma lithography micropatterning, we investigate the roles of structural arrangement of endothelial cells in collective calcium signaling and cell contractility. Under histamine stimulation, endothelial cells in self-assembled and microengineered networks, but not individual cells and monolayers, exhibit calcium oscillations. Micropatterning, pharmacological inhibition, and computational modeling reveal that the calcium oscillation depends on the number of neighboring cells coupled via gap junctional intercellular communication, providing a mechanistic basis of the architecture-dependent calcium signaling. Furthermore, the calcium oscillation attenuates the histamine-induced cytoskeletal reorganization and cell contraction, resulting in differential cell responses in an architecture-dependent manner. Taken together, our results suggest that endothelial cells can sense and respond to chemical stimuli according to the vascular architecture via collective calcium signaling.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Modeling and Simulation
- Molecular Biology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Computational Theory and Mathematics