Strategies for Engineering the Adhesive Microenvironment
- Cite this article as:
- Pirone, D.M. & Chen, C.S. J Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia (2004) 9: 405. doi:10.1007/s10911-004-1410-z
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Cells exist within a complex tissue microenvironment, which includes soluble factors, extracellular matrix molecules, and neighboring cells. In the breast, the adhesive microenvironment plays a crucial role in driving both normal mammary gland development as well tumor initiation and progression. Researchers are designing increasingly more complex ways to mimic the in vivo microenvironment in an in vitro setting, so that cells in culture may serve as model systems for tissue structures. Here, we explore the use of microfabrication technologies to engineer the adhesive microenvironment of cells in culture. These new tools permit the culture of cells on well-defined surface chemistries, patterning of cells into defined geometries either alone or in coculture scenarios, and measurement of forces associated with cell-ECM interactions. When applied to questions in mammary gland development and neoplasia, these new tools will enable a better understanding of how adhesive, structural, and mechanical cues regulate mammary epithelial biology.