Reorganization of structural proteins in vascular smooth muscle cells grown in collagen gel and basement membrane matrices: a comparison with their in situ counterparts
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When smooth muscle cells are enzyme-dispersed from tissues they lose their original filament architecture and extracellular matrix surrounds. They then reorganize their structural proteins to accommodate a 2-D growth environment when seeded onto culture dishes. The aim of the present study was to determine the expression and reorganization of the structural proteins in rabbit aortic smooth muscle cells seeded into 3-D collagen gel and Matrigel (a basement membrane matrix). It was shown that smooth muscle cells seeded in both gels gradually reorganize their structural proteins into an architecture similar to that of their in vivo counterparts. At the same time, a gradual decrease in levels of smooth muscle-specific contractile proteins (mainly smooth muscle myosin heavy chain-2) and an increase in beta-nonmuscle actin occur, independent of both cell growth and extracellular matrix components. Thus, smooth muscle cells in 3-D extracellular matrix culture and in vivo have a similar filament architecture in which the contractile proteins such as actin, myosin, and alpha-actinin are organized into longitudinally arranged "myofibrils" and the vimentin-containing intermediate filaments form a meshed cytoskeletal network. However, the myofibrils reorganized in vitro contain less smooth muscle-specific and more nonmuscle contractile proteins. Copyright 2001 Academic Press.
Journal of Structural Biology