Mechanical & Materials Engineering, Department of


Date of this Version

Spring 5-22-2014


Riehl, B.D., Fluid Flow-Induced Mesenchymal Stem Cell Migration: Role of FAK and ROCK Mechanosensors. MS Thesis, Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, May 2014.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, Under the Supervision of Professor Jung Yul Lim. Lincoln, Nebraska: May 2014

Copyright (c) 2014 Brandon D. Riehl


The study of mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) migration under mechanical stimulation conditions with investigation of the underlying molecular mechanism could lead to a better understanding and outcomes in stem cell-based regenerative medicine. MSCs having multipotent regenerative capability exist in niches in the bone marrow, muscle, vasculature, and in other tissues throughout the body, and their migration through tissues and vasculature for the repair of damaged tissue is a key process of cell and tissue homeostasis, remodeling, and regeneration. While cell migration in response to cytokines and other chemo-attractants is relatively well understood, little is revealed in regard to the effect of mechanical cues. In this study, we investigated the migration of C3H10T1/2 murine MSCs in response to fluid flow-induced shear stress in vitro. MSCs were subjected to steady flows with physiologically relevant shear stresses of 2, 15, and 25 dyne/cm2 and compared with static control. Fluid shear induced cell migration following the flow direction, which effect was greater at higher shear stresses. To test the molecular mechanism, MSCs with stable knockdown of focal adhesion kinase (FAK) and RhoA kinase (ROCK), each constituting the key component of focal adhesion signaling and cytoskeletal tension signaling respectively, were fluid-sheared. FAK-silenced MSCs showed decreases in fluid shear-induced migration, for example, decreases in migration length, confinement ratio, and motility coefficient. Interestingly, in the presence of ROCK silencing, MSCs were more responsive to fluid shear, showing increases in such migration parameters. Our data may suggest a different role of focal adhesion and cytoskeletal tension in mechanical induction of MSC migration.

Adviser: Jung Yul Lim