Research ArticleIMMUNOLOGY

Microfluidics-based super-resolution microscopy enables nanoscopic characterization of blood stem cell rolling

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Science Advances  18 Jul 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 7, eaat5304
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aat5304


Hematopoietic stem/progenitor cell (HSPC) homing occurs via cell adhesion mediated by spatiotemporally organized ligand-receptor interactions. Although molecules and biological processes involved in this multistep cellular interaction with endothelium have been studied extensively, molecular mechanisms of this process, in particular the nanoscale spatiotemporal behavior of ligand-receptor interactions and their role in the cellular interaction, remain elusive. We introduce a microfluidics-based super-resolution fluorescence imaging platform and apply the method to investigate the initial essential step in the homing, tethering, and rolling of HSPCs under external shear stress that is mediated by selectins, expressed on endothelium, with selectin ligands (that is, CD44) expressed on HSPCs. Our new method reveals transient nanoscale reorganization of CD44 clusters during cell rolling on E-selectin. We demonstrate that this mechanical force-induced reorganization is accompanied by a large structural reorganization of actin cytoskeleton. The CD44 clusters were partly disrupted by disrupting lipid rafts. The spatial reorganization of CD44 and actin cytoskeleton was not observed for the lipid raft–disrupted cells, demonstrating the essential role of the spatial clustering of CD44 on its reorganization during cell rolling. The lipid raft disruption causes faster and unstable cell rolling on E-selectin compared with the intact cells. Together, our results demonstrate that the spatial reorganization of CD44 and actin cytoskeleton is the result of concerted effect of E-selectin–ligand interactions, external shear stress, and spatial clustering of the selectin ligands, and has significant effect on the tethering/rolling step in HSPC homing. Our new experimental platform provides a foundation for characterizing complicated HSPC homing.

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