Smooth muscle cells are important components of the prostate stroma. They are responsible for the contraction of the organ during ejaculation and are involved in paracrine mechanisms taking place during development, morphogenesis and pathological changes such as cancer and benign prostate hyperplasia. In spite of the important function the smooth muscle cells perform and their physiological implications, little is known about the regulatory factors and about their interactions with the environment. In particular, very little is known about how the extracellular matrix affects the smooth muscle cell behavior and how the properties of the extracellular matrix regulate the differentiated state, the morphology and function of these cells. In this project, we will study the effects of extracellular matrix (type I collagen, matrigel and fibrin matrix) affects the organization of the cytoskeleton of the smooth muscle cells in 2D and 3D matrices. Under these conditions, we will study how the interaction with different components and assemblies of the extracellular matrix correlate with the sub-cellular localization and activation of FAK (focal adhesion kinase). Based on the initial results, we will extend this study to the behavior of the smooth muscle cells challenged with extracellular matrix surfaces, particularly using type I collagen in specific geometric forms, using casts obtained through soft lithography and (2) the morphological changes, differentiated state and function of smooth muscle cells exposed to soluble plasma (5% in culture medium), associating morphological, biochemical, immunohistochemical and microscopical analyses.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: