Many cell types respond to electric fields (EFs) through cell migration, a process termed galvanotaxis. The galvanotactic response is critical for development and wound healing. Here we investigate whether skin-derived precursor cells (SKPs), which have the potential to differentiate into mesodermal and peripheral neural cell types, undergo directed migration in the presence of an EF. We found that EF application promotes SKP migration towards the anode. The migratory response is substrate-dependent as SKPs undergo directed migration on laminin and Matrigel, but not collagen. The majority of SKPs express the undifferentiated cell markers nestin, fibronectin and Sox2, after both EF application and in sister cultures with no EF application, suggesting that EFs do not promote cell differentiation. Co-cultures of SKPs and brain-derived neural precursor cells (NPCs), a population of cells that undergo rapid, cathode-directed migration, reveal that in the presence of NPCs an increased percentage of SKPs undergo galvanotaxis, providing evidence that cells can provide cues to modify the galvanotactic response. We propose that a better understanding of SKP migration in the presence of EFs may provide insight into improved strategies for wound repair.
Keywords: Cell migration; Co-cultures; Electric field; Galvanotaxis; Skin-derived precursors; Substrates.
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