Cellular reprogramming is a dedifferentiation process during which cells continuously undergo phenotypical remodeling. Although the genetic and biochemical details of this remodeling are fairly well understood, little is known about the change in cell mechanical properties during the process. In this study, we investigated changes in the mechanical phenotype of murine fetal neural progenitor cells (fNPCs) during reprogramming to induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). We find that fNPCs become progressively stiffer en route to pluripotency, and that this stiffening is mirrored by iPSCs becoming more compliant during differentiation towards the neural lineage. Furthermore, we show that the mechanical phenotype of iPSCs is comparable with that of embryonic stem cells. These results suggest that mechanical properties of cells are inherent to their developmental stage. They also reveal that pluripotent cells can differentiate towards a more compliant phenotype, which challenges the view that pluripotent stemcells are less stiff than any cells more advanced developmentally. Finally, our study indicates that the cellmechanical phenotypemight be utilized as an inherent biophysical marker of pluripotent stem cells.
- Cell mechanics
- Real-time deformability cytometry