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Soft Polydimethylsiloxane-Supported Lipid Bilayers for Studying T Cell Interactions.

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Lippert, Anna H 
Dimov, Ivan B 
Winkel, Alexander K 
McColl, James 


Much of what we know about the early stages of T cell activation has been obtained from studies of T cells interacting with glass-supported lipid bilayers that favor imaging but are orders of magnitude stiffer than typical cells. We developed a method for attaching lipid bilayers to polydimethylsiloxane polymer supports, producing "soft bilayers" with physiological levels of mechanical resistance (Young's modulus of 4 kPa). Comparisons of T cell behavior on soft and glass-supported bilayers revealed that whereas late stages of T cell activation are thought to be substrate-stiffness dependent, early calcium signaling was unaffected by substrate rigidity, implying that early steps in T cell receptor triggering are not mechanosensitive. The exclusion of large receptor-type phosphatases was observed on the soft bilayers, however, even though it is yet to be demonstrated at authentic cell-cell contacts. This work sets the stage for an imaging-based exploration of receptor signaling under conditions closely mimicking physiological cell-cell contact.



Cell Communication, Dimethylpolysiloxanes, Elastic Modulus, Lipid Bilayers, T-Lymphocytes

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Biophys J

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Elsevier BV
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/L015978/1)
European Research Council (772426)
Wellcome Trust (via University of Oxford) (207547/Z/17/Z)
Royal Society