Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Heart cells respond to stiff environments


Proteins associated with the regulation of organ size and shape have been found to respond to the mechanics of the microenvironment in ways that specifically affect the decision of adult cardiac stem cells to generate muscular or vascular cells.

Cell development for specific functions — so-called cell differentiation — is crucial for maintaining healthy tissue and organs. Two proteins in particular — the Yes-associated protein (YAP) and WW domain-containing transcription regulator protein 1 (WWTR1 or TAZ) — have been linked with control of cell differentiation in the tissues of the lymphatic, circulatory, intestinal and neural systems, as well as regulating embryonic stem cell renewal.

Schematic illustrating how mechanical properties of substrates affect where YAP/TAZ proteins are located in cells (left) and how this affects cell development for specific functions (right).

An international collaboration of researchers has now identified that changes in the elasticity and nanotopography of the cellular environment of these proteins can affect how heart stem cells differentiate with implications for the onset of heart diseases. 

Researchers at the International Center for Materials Nanoarchitectonics (MANA), National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS) collaborated with researchers in Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia and the Czech Republic in the study. 

They engineered YAP and TAZ proteins that expressed green fluorescent protein so that their location within the cell could be tracked. They then prepared cell substrates from smart biomaterials displaying dynamic control of elasticity and nanostructure with temperature.

“Our data provide the first evidence for YAP/TAZ shuttling activity between the nucleus and the cytoplasm being promptly activated in response to dynamic modifications in substrate stiffness or nanostructure,” explain the researchers. 

Observations of gene expression highlighted the key role of YAP/TAZ proteins in cell differentiation. In further investigations on the effect of substrate stiffness they also found that cell differentiation was most efficient for substrates displaying stiffness similar to that found in the heart. 

The authors suggest that understanding the effects of microenvironment nanostructure and mechanics on how these proteins affect cell differentiation could be used to aid processes that maintain a healthy heart. 

They conclude, “These proteins are indicated as potential targets to control cardiac progenitor cell fate by materials design.”

Contact Information
International Center of Materials Nanoarchitectonics (MANA)
National Institute for Materials Science
1-1 Namiki Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-0044 JAPAN
Phone: +81-29-860-4710

International Center for Materials Nanoarchitectonics (WPI-MANA)
Address: 1-1 Namiki, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-0044, Japan

Associated links

Journal information

Hippo pathway effectors control cardiac progenitor cell fate by acting as dynamic sensors of substrate mechanics and nanostructure. Diogo Mosqueira,1,2,† Stefania Pagliari,1,3,† Koichiro Uto,1 Mitsuhiro Ebara,1 Sara Romanazzo,1 Carmen Escobedo-Lucea,4 Jun Nakanishi,1 Akiyoshi Taniguchi,1 Ornella Franzese,5 Paolo Di Nardo,6 Marie Jose´ Goumans,7 Enrico Traversa,8 Perpetua Pinto-do-O,2 Takao Aoyagi,1,‡,* and Giancarlo Forte1,9,†,0* 2014 ACS NANO; DOI: 10.1021/nn4058984.

1. Biomaterials Unit, International Center for Materials Nanoarchitectonics (MANA), National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS), Tsukuba, Japan
2. Instituto de Engenharia Biomedica-INEB, Universidade do Porto, Porto, Portugal
3. Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), Tokyo, Japan
4. Academy of Finland Research Fellow, Division of Pharmaceutical Biosciences/Center for Drug Research (CDR), University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
5. Department of Systems Medicine, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy
6. Department of Clinical Sciences and Translational Medicine, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy
7. Department of Molecular Cell Biology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands
8. King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Thuwal, Saudi Arabia
9. International Clinical Research Center (ICRC), Integrated Center of Cellular Therapy and Regenerative Medicine, St. Anne's University Hospital, Brno, Czech Republic.
0. Present address: International Clinical Research Center (ICRC), Integrated Center of Cellular Therapy and Regenerative Medicine, St. Anne's University Hospital, Brno, Czech Republic.
†These authors contributed equally.
‡These authors contributed equally.
* Corresponding authors

Adarsh Sandhu | Research SEA
Further information:

Further reports about: Heart MANA Medicine Nanoarchitectonics environments nanostructure proteins stiff stiffness

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Laboratory study: Scientists from Cologne explore a new approach to prevent newborn epilepsies
24.11.2015 | Deutsches Zentrum für Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen e.V. (DZNE)

nachricht U of T research sheds new light on mysterious fungus that has major health consequences
23.11.2015 | University of Toronto

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Lactate for Brain Energy

Nerve cells cover their high energy demand with glucose and lactate. Scientists of the University of Zurich now provide new support for this. They show for the first time in the intact mouse brain evidence for an exchange of lactate between different brain cells. With this study they were able to confirm a 20-year old hypothesis.

In comparison to other organs, the human brain has the highest energy requirements. The supply of energy for nerve cells and the particular role of lactic acid...

Im Focus: Laser process simulation available as app for first time

In laser material processing, the simulation of processes has made great strides over the past few years. Today, the software can predict relatively well what will happen on the workpiece. Unfortunately, it is also highly complex and requires a lot of computing time. Thanks to clever simplification, experts from Fraunhofer ILT are now able to offer the first-ever simulation software that calculates processes in real time and also runs on tablet computers and smartphones. The fast software enables users to do without expensive experiments and to find optimum process parameters even more effectively.

Before now, the reliable simulation of laser processes was a job for experts. Armed with sophisticated software packages and after many hours on computer...

Im Focus: Quantum Simulation: A Better Understanding of Magnetism

Heidelberg physicists use ultracold atoms to imitate the behaviour of electrons in a solid

Researchers at Heidelberg University have devised a new way to study the phenomenon of magnetism. Using ultracold atoms at near absolute zero, they prepared a...

Im Focus: Climate Change: Warm water is mixing up life in the Arctic

AWI researchers’ unique 15-year observation series reveals how sensitive marine ecosystems in polar regions are to change

The warming of arctic waters in the wake of climate change is likely to produce radical changes in the marine habitats of the High North. This is indicated by...

Im Focus: Nanocarriers may carry new hope for brain cancer therapy

Berkeley Lab researchers develop nanoparticles that can carry therapeutics across the brain blood barrier

Glioblastoma multiforme, a cancer of the brain also known as "octopus tumors" because of the manner in which the cancer cells extend their tendrils into...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

Gluten oder nicht Gluten? Überempfindlichkeit auf Weizen kann unterschiedliche Ursachen haben

17.11.2015 | Event News

Art Collection Deutsche Börse zeigt Ausstellung „Traces of Disorder“

21.10.2015 | Event News

Siemens Healthcare introduces the Cios family of mobile C-arms

20.10.2015 | Event News

Latest News

Plant Defense as a Biotech Tool

25.11.2015 | Life Sciences

“move“ – on course for the mobility of the future

25.11.2015 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Understanding a missing link in how antidepressants work

25.11.2015 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>