• Development of a novel cell traction force transducer based on cholesteryl ester liquid crystals. Characterisation, quantification and evaluation of a cholesteryl ester liquid crystal based single cell force transducer system.

      Denyer, Morgan C.T.; Youseffi, Mansour; Blagden, Nicholas; Soon, Chin Fhong (University of BradfordSchool of Life Sciences, 2012-02-10)
      In biomechano-transducing, cellular generated tension can be measured by soft substrates based on polymers but these techniques are limited either by spatial resolution or ability to detect localised cell traction forces (CTF) due to their non-linear viscous behaviour under shear rates. A newly developed cell traction force transducer system based on cholesteryl ester lyotropic liquid crystals (LCTFT) was developed to sense localised traction forces of human keratinocyte cell lines (HaCaTs), in which the length of the deformation line induced represents the intensity of the CTF exerted. The physical properties of the cholesteryl ester based lyotropic liquid crystals (LLC) were characterised by using polarising microscopy, rheology, atomic force microscopy (AFM) based nano-indentation, spherical indentation, and micro-tensile tests. The interactions of LLC with cells were studied by using cell viability studies, cytochemical treatments, widefield surface plasmon resonance (WSPR) microscopy and various immuno-staining techniques. The results show that LLC is thermally stable (0 - 50 oC) and linearly viscoelastic below 10 % shear strain at shear rates of < 1 s-1. AFM nano and spherical indentations show a good agreement on the Young¿s modulus of both determined at ~110 kPa which is close to the elastic modulus of the epidermis. The Poisson¿s ratio of LLC was determined at ~0.58 by using micro tensile tests. The biophysical interaction studies indicated that LLC is biocompatible and allowed cell attachment. Cell relaxation technique by cytochalasin-B treatment suggested that the attachment and contraction of cells on LLC was due to the contractile activity of actin cytoskeletons that are mediated by focal adhesions. The staining experiments showed that cells consistently expressed the same suites of integrins (¿2, ¿3, ¿5 and ¿1) and ECM proteins (collagen type IV, laminin and fibronectin) on both glass and LLC coated substrates. Interfacial interaction of cells with LLC observed via the staining of actin and vinculin, and WSPR imaging suggest the association of marginal actin filaments and focal adhesions in attaching HaCaT cells to the LLC. Linear static analysis applied in the Finite Element model of focal adhesion-LC confirmed the compressive force patterns induced by cells. By applying cell relaxation techniques and Hooke¿s theorem, the force-deformation relationships of the LLC were derived and used for direct quantification of CTF in culture. The sensitivity of the LCTFT was implied by a wide range of CTF (10 - 140 nN) measured at high resolutions (~2 ¿m). Nonetheless, a custom-built cell traction force measurement and mapping software (CTFM) was developed to map CTF of single cells. Reliability of the LCTFT was evaluated by using a known pharmacological active cytokine, TGF-¿1, in inducing contraction of human keratinocytes. This study inferred internal consistency and repeatability of the LCTFT in sensing contraction responses of HaCaT cells in a concentration dependent manner of TGF-¿1. The overall LCTFT and CTFM software had shown good potential for use in the study of contraction and migration of keratinocytes.
    • An integrative bioinformatics approach for analyses of multi-level transcriptional regulation and three-dimensional organization in the epidermis and skin appendages. Exploring genomic transcriptional profiles of the distinct stages of hair follicle and sweat gland development and analyses of mechanism integrating the transcriptional regulation, linear and high-order genome organization within epidermal differentiation complex in keratinocytes.

      Botchkarev, Vladimir A.; Peng, Yonghong; Poterlowicz, Krzysztof (University of BradfordSchool of Life Sciences, 2013-11-04)
      The transcription in the eukaryotic cells involves epigenetic regulatory mechanisms that control local and higher-order chromatin remodelling. In the skin, keratinocyte-specific genes are organized into distinct loci including Epidermal Differentiation Complex (EDC) and Keratin type I/II loci. This thesis introduces bioinformatics approaches to analyze multi-level regulatory mechanisms that control skin development and keratinocyte-specific differentiation. Firstly, integration of gene expression data with analyses of linear genome organization showed dramatic downregulation of the genes that comprise large genomic domains in the sweat glands including EDC locus, compared to ii hair follicles, suggesting substantial differences in global genome rearrangement during development of these two distinct skin appendages. Secondly, comparative analysis of the genetic programmes regulated in keratinocytes by Lhx2 transcription factor and chromatin remodeler Satb1 revealed that significant number of their target genes is clustered in the genome. Furthermore, it was shown in this study that Satb1 target genes are lineage-specific. Thirdly, analysis of the topological interactomes of Loricrin and Keratin 5 in hair follicle steam cells revealed presence of the cis- and trans-interactions and lineage specific genes (Wnt, TGF-beta/activin, Notch, etc.). Expression levels of the genes that comprise interactomes show correlation with their histone modification status. This study demonstrates the crucial role for integration of transcription factormediated and epigenetic regulatory mechanisms in establishing a proper balance of gene expression in keratinocytes during development and differentiation into distinct cell lineages and provides an integrated bioinformatics platform for further analyses of the changes in global organization of keratinocyte-specific genomic loci in normal and diseased skin.
    • The role of photoreceptors in human skin physiology; potential targets for light-based wound healing treatments. Identification of opsins and cryptochromes and the effect of photobiomodulation on human skin and in cultured primary epidermal keratinocytes and dermal fibroblasts

      Thornton, M. Julie; Botchkarev, Vladimir A.; Castellano-Pellicena, Irene (University of BradfordCentre for Skin Sciences, Faculty of Life Sciences, 2017)
      The positive effect of photobiomodulation in wound healing has previously been reported, however there is a considerable lack of knowledge regarding the molecular mechanisms involved, and no consensus on light parameters. Cytochrome c oxidase (CCO) is established as the main photoreceptor in cells, but light also induces nitric oxide (NO), production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and activation of ion channels. Emerging new molecular targets include the GPCRs opsins (OPNs) and the circadian clock transcription factors, cryptochromes (CRYs). Localisation of OPN1-SW, OPN3, OPN5, CRY1 and CRY2 was seen in female facial and abdominal human skin. Furthermore, expression of these photoreceptors was retained in primary epidermal keratinocytes and dermal fibroblasts in culture; both cell types expressed OPN1-SW, OPN3, CRY1 and CRY2, at the mRNA and protein level. OPN2 was only expressed in cultured dermal fibroblasts, while in line with in situ expression, OPN5 was only expressed in cultured keratinocytes. The photoreceptor-expressing cultured epidermal keratinocytes demonstrated a dose- and wavelength- dependent response in both metabolic activity and cell migration in a scratch-wound assay. Specifically, low dose (2 J/cm2) blue light (447 nm) increased metabolic activity, but it did not impact keratinocyte migration. In contrast, high dose (30 J/cm2) blue light had no effect on metabolism, but inhibited migration of epidermal keratinocytes. Red light (655 nm) at 30 J/cm2 stimulated metabolic activity but did not modulate migration, while a higher dose of 60 J/cm2 had no effect on keratinocyte metabolic activity. In order to study OPN3 and CRY1 function, they were silenced in keratinocytes using siRNA; additionally 8 μM KL001 was used to stabilize CRY1. KL001 inhibited migration, and induced KRT1 and KRT10, an effect which was abrogated by knockdown of OPN3. Interestingly, knockdown of OPN3 upregulated CRY1 expression, while KL001 upregulated OPN3 expression, indicating a regulation by OPN3 of the molecular epidermal clock. Low levels of blue light increased early differentiation of epidermal keratinocytes, which was mediated by OPN3 and circadian clock mechanisms. However, low levels of blue light decreased keratinocyte DNA synthesis, which was mediated by circadian clock independently of OPN3. Translation of parameters ex vivo showed increasing re-epithelialisation and induction of OPN3 and CRY1 expression following exposure to 2 J/cm2 of blue light; however high doses of blue light inhibited re-epithelialisation. Red light, also increased re-epithelialisation, but had no effect on OPN3 or CRY1 expression. In conclusion, photoreceptors are expressed in human skin and they mediate DNA synthesis, migration and differentiation of epidermal keratinocytes. Furthermore, low dose of blue light interacts with OPN3 to induce epidermal differentiation, through the regulation of the circadian clock. A better understanding of the molecular mechanisms behind the photobiomodulation response in vitro will help to develop light based therapies for human wound healing. Interestingly, selected light parameters translated to human ex vivo skin showed a beneficial effect of low doses of blue (2 J/cm2) and red (30 J/cm2) light in re-epithelialisation.