Pluripotency state affects the mechanical phenotype of the embryonic stem cell nucleus
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The thesis aims at investigating the connection between nucleus mechanical characteristics with pluripotency state and differentiation associated with altered cell gene expression levels. The project investigates the deformation characteristics of the cell nucleus during unconfined compression in a 3D cell-seeded agarose constructs. The studies report modification in the mechanical behaviour of the nucleus in different embryonic stem cell phenotypes based on various pluripotent states (naïve or primed states) or following triggering of early differentiation. A multi-scale model is also presented to simulate dynamic details of mechanical perturbation to cells during compression. The first chapter presents a review of the relevant literature to introduce current progress in the related research field and the second chapter describes the general methods used in the thesis including cell culture, agarose construct preparation, construct compression and microscopy recording. The third chapter presents findings of studies involving the application of compression to embryonic stem cells in naïve and primed sate within agarose scaffolds. A range of parameters relating to the relative cell/nucleus morphological modifications are recorded with analysis and discussion. Chapter four presents studies that investigate the early differentiation of embryonic stem cells from either the naïve and primed pluripotency, achieved by altering cell culture condition, and further reveals the nuclear mechanical characteristic changes. The fifth chapter describes a multi-scale model developed to simulating the 3D cell-seeded agarose compression reported in previous chapters. This model is also used to estimate cell mechanical parameters and show accurate deformation detail in different locations within the construct. A final discussion of the thesis is provided in chapter 6 with a plan for future work.
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