Elastic fiber macro-assembly is a hierarchical, cell motion-mediated process

Andras Czirok, Julia Zach, Beth A. Kozel, Robert P. Mecham, Elaine C. Davis, Brenda J. Rongish

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Elastic fibers are responsible for the extensibility and resilience of many vertebrate tissues, and improperly assembled elastic fibers are implicated in a number of human diseases. It was recently demonstrated that in vitro, cells first secrete tropoelastin into a punctate pattern of globules. To study the dynamics of macroassembly, that is, the assembly of the secreted tropoelastin globules into elastic fibers, we utilized long-term time-lapse immunofluorescence imaging and a tropoelastin p Timer fusion protein, which shifts its fluorescence spectrum over time. Pulse-chase immunolabeling of the fibroblast-like RFL-6 cells demonstrates that tropoelastin globules aggregate in a hierarchical manner, creating progressively larger fibrillar structures. By analyzing the correlation between cell and extracellular matrix movements, we show that both the aggregation process and shaping the aggregates into fibrillar form is coupled to cell motion. We also show that the motion of non-adjacent cells becomes more coordinated as the physical size of elastin-containing aggregates increases. Our data imply that the formation of elastic fibers involves the concerted action and motility of multiple cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-106
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Cellular Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1 2006

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