Research ArticleCELL BIOLOGY

Mapping the structure and biological functions within mesenchymal bodies using microfluidics

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Science Advances  04 Mar 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 10, eaaw7853
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaw7853


Organoids that recapitulate the functional hallmarks of anatomic structures comprise cell populations able to self-organize cohesively in 3D. However, the rules underlying organoid formation in vitro remain poorly understood because a correlative analysis of individual cell fate and spatial organization has been challenging. Here, we use a novel microfluidics platform to investigate the mechanisms determining the formation of organoids by human mesenchymal stromal cells that recapitulate the early steps of condensation initiating bone repair in vivo. We find that heterogeneous mesenchymal stromal cells self-organize in 3D in a developmentally hierarchical manner. We demonstrate a link between structural organization and local regulation of specific molecular signaling pathways such as NF-κB and actin polymerization, which modulate osteo-endocrine functions. This study emphasizes the importance of resolving spatial heterogeneities within cellular aggregates to link organization and functional properties, enabling a better understanding of the mechanisms controlling organoid formation, relevant to organogenesis and tissue repair.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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