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Cellular Structure Analysis MB231 Cell Line. Effect of Substrate Rigidity On Breast Cancer Cells Elizabeth L. Smith, RET Fellow 2011 West Aurora High School RET Mentor: Dr. Michael Cho, PhD NSF- RET Program. Abstract. Motivation.

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Cellular structure analysis mb231 cell line

Cellular Structure Analysis

MB231 Cell Line

Effect of Substrate RigidityOn Breast Cancer Cells Elizabeth L. Smith, RET Fellow 2011West Aurora High SchoolRET Mentor: Dr. Michael Cho, PhDNSF- RET Program



Cancer cells interact with the environment around them in a bidirectional manner. While metastatic cells modify the environment and navigate through it, the environment exerts significant influence over the cell’s shape, structure, and behavior.2,3,4,5

This study was designed to examine how two breast cancer lines, MB231 and MCF7, respond to PDMS (polydimethylsiloxane) substrates that differ in the rigidity by an order of magnitude.

Less invasive MCF7 cells adhere poorly to PDMS independent of the rigidity, suggesting lack of focal adhesion. Highly invasive MB231 cells showed greater proliferation on the soft substrate, as well as significantly greater actin fibers and focal adhesions. Invasive MB231 cells alter their structure based on substrate rigidity.

Understanding the rigidity-dependent cancer cell behavior may lead to development of better cancer diagnoses, therapies, and potentially cures.

1 in 8 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed

with breast cancer in their lifetime

Breast cancer is the

second deadliest cancer in women1



Breast cancer cells will change structure in response to varying substrate stiffness

Material and Methods

100 um

MB231 cell growing on 10:1 PDMS at 40x magnification


Average Number of Cells per View

MB231 Cell Line


Rigid Substrate

10:1 PDMS




Day 1

Day 7

Soft Substrate

30:1 PDMS



  • NSF Grant CBET-EEC-0743068

  • Prof. A. Linninger, RET Program Director

  • Dr. Michael Cho, Research Advisor

  • Brandon Lutz, Research Mentor

  • University of Illinois- Chicago


1. Breastcancer.org (April 19th, 2011). U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics. Breastcancer.org. Retrieved July 26, 2011, from http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/understand_bc/statistics.jsp

2. Curtis, A., & Wilkinson, C. (January 01, 1997). Topographical control of cells. Biomaterials, 18, 24, 1573.

3. Guo, W. H., Frey, M. T., Burnham, N. A., & Wang, Y. L. (January 01, 2006). Substrate rigidity regulates the formation and maintenance of tissues. Biophysical Journal,90, 6, 2213-20.

4. Rapier, R., Huq, J., Vishnubhotla, R., Bulic, M., Perrault, C. M., Metlushko, V., Cho, M., ... Glover, S. C. (January 01, 2010). The extracellular matrix microtopography drives critical changes in cellular motility and Rho A activity in colon cancer cells. Cancer Cell International, 10.

5. Tzvetkova-Chevolleau, T., Stéphanou, A., Fuard, D., Ohayon, J., Schiavone, P., & Tracqui, P. (January 01, 2008). The motility of normal and cancer cells in response to the combined influence of the substrate rigidity and anisotropic microstructure. Biomaterials,29, 10, 1541-51.