Cyclic uniaxial mechanical stretching of cells using a LEGO® parts-based mechanical stretcher system.J Cell Sci. 2020 01 06; 133(1)JC
Mechanical cues are essential for the regulation of cell and tissue physiology. Hence, it has become an utmost necessity for cell biologists to account for those mechanical parameters when investigating biological processes and they need devices to manipulate cells accordingly. Here, we report a simple mechanical cell-stretching system that can generate uniaxial cyclic mechanical stretch on cells in tissue culture. This system is based upon a low-cost battery-powered uniaxial cyclic mechanical stretcher exclusively built out of LEGO® parts combined with a stretchable poly(dimethylsiloxane) tissue culture plate in order to grow and stretch cells. We characterize the system and show that it can be used in a wide variety of downstream applications, including immunofluorescence, western blotting and biochemical assays. We also illustrate how this system can be useful in a study as we investigated the behavior of integrin adhesion complexes upon cell stretching. We therefore present a cost-effective, multipurpose cell-stretching system that should help to increase understanding of mechanical signaling.This article has an associated First Person interview with the first author of the paper.