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    How do cells respond to the environment?

    2D substrates of controlled rigidity in polyacrylamide or elastomer (PDMS) and functionalized with adhesion molecules mimic the physical environment of cells as close as possible to the physiological conditions of the organ from which they originate.

    Classically, the stiffness range extends from 0.5-1kPa to 100 kPa for polyacrylamide gels. These gels are produced by adjusting the absolute and relative concentrations of acrylamide and bis-acrylamide. Tables exist to approach the desired rigidities. The validation of the rigidity (Young's modulus E) must be measured by atomic force microscopy (AFM). PDMS does not allow such a wide range of stiffness and is more applicable to high stiffnesses (up to MPa).

    These two types of substrates must be functionalized in order to allow attachment and spreading of cells. The adhesion molecules such as fibronectin, collagen, vitronectin… will be chosen according to the cells studied. The use of other adhesion molecules will be studied on a case-by-case basis.

    After seeding and incubation of the cells, various parameters can be studied: spreading, shape of the cells, migration of individual cells or collective migration, sub-cellular localization of markers of interest… in living cells or after fixation with acquisition in white light or fluorescence in the same way as on plastic or glass. Biochemical approaches remain difficult due to the small size of the gels and therefore the small number of cells.