Use of Three-Dimensional Collagen Gels to Study Mechanotransduction in T47D Breast Epithelial Cells

Biol Proced Online. 2005;7:144-61. doi: 10.1251/bpo112. Epub 2005 Oct 17.


Several pathological and disease conditions can alter the mechanical properties of the extracellular matrix (ECM). Conversely, some diseases may arise from changes in the density or rigidity of the ECM. This necessitates the use and development of in vitro models to understand how both biophysical and biochemical signals regulate complex cellular behaviors. T47D breast epithelial cells will differentiate into duct-like tubules when cultured in a floating three-dimensional (3D) collagen gel, but not a 3D collagen gel that is left attached to the culture dish. This paper details several protocols we have developed for analyzing breast cell biology in 3D matrices, including culturing cells in 3D collagen gels, immunostaining cellular structures, and performing biochemical procedures directly from cells embedded in collagen gels.