Components of the extracellular matrix (ECM) have recently been shown to influence stem cell specification. However, it has been challenging to assess the spatial and temporal dynamics of stem cell-ECM interactions because most methodologies utilized to date require sample destruction or fixation. We examined the efficacy of utilizing the endogenous optical signals of two important ECM proteins, elastin (Eln), through autofluorescence, and type I collagen (ColI), through second harmonic generation (SHG), during mouse embryonic stem cell differentiation. After finding favorable overlap between antibody labeling and the endogenous fluorescent signal of Eln, we used this endogenous signal to map temporal changes in Eln and ColI during murine embryoid body differentiation and found that Eln increases until day 9 and then decreases slightly by day 12, while Col1 steadily increases over the 12-day period. Furthermore, we combined endogenous fluorescence imaging and SHG with antibody labeling of cardiomyocytes to examine the spatial relationship between Eln and ColI accumulation and cardiomyocyte differentiation. Eln was ubiquitously present, with enrichment in regions with cardiomyocyte differentiation, while there was an inverse correlation between ColI and cardiomyocyte differentiation. This work provides an important first step for utilizing endogenous optical signals, which can be visualized in living cells, to understand the relationship between the ECM and cardiomyocyte development and sets the stage for future studies of stem cell-ECM interactions and dynamics relevant to stem cells as well as other cell and tissue types.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© Copyright 2015, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. 2015.