How the University of Glasgow uses JPK equipment to study cell interaction

The Yin group in the Division of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Glasgow is studying cells and how they react with their surroundings using JPK Instruments’ NanoWizard AFM and CellHesion module. JPK manufactures nanoanalytic instrumentation for research in life sciences and soft matter.

Professor Huabing Yin is a senior lecturer in the Division of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Glasgow. Her research aims to understand how a cell interacts with its surroundings at the microscale level since this process is fundamental to a vast number of applications in health care. She stated, “We take a multidisciplinary approach, developing technologies to study cells in well-controlled microenvironments that resemble key features in their native habitats. Our research converges on micro-/nanofabrication, microfluidics, and advanced microscopic and spectroscopy technologies. These allow us to develop various integrated approaches for single cell analysis, linking biological function with chemistry and the physics of a cell.

The NanoWizard has been particularly flexible for integration with other techniques. Professor Yin continued, “We have used various optical microscopic and spectroscopic techniques (such as Raman). We combine some of them, in particularly, fluorescence and TIRF imaging with AFM. This significantly enhances our ability to associate biological activity with the physics of cells. The JPK system is very reliable and easy to use. Our NanoWizard AFM has been used intensively for over ten years and it has never let us down.”“We use our AFM to quantify physical and mechanical properties (e.g. stiffness, viscoelasticity) of cells and their associated extracellular matrix. These properties are closely linked with cell functions in physiological (e.g. growth, differentiation; McPhee et al 2010) and pathological conditions. In collaboration with scientists in the Beatson Cancer Institute, we have shown the roles of cell stiffness (Cameron et al 2015) and extracellular matrix (Hernandez-Fernaud et al 2017) in cancer invasion. We also use our CellHesion module to quantify the interaction between living cells and extracellular matrix. This offers a great capability for dynamic monitoring of cell-matrix interaction with nanoscale resolution.”


McPhee G, Dalby MJ, Riehle M, Yin HB (2010). Can common adhesion molecules and microtopography affect cellular elasticity? A combined atomic force microscopy and optical study. Medical & Biological Engineering & Computing 48: 1043-1053.

Cameron JM, Gabrielsen M, Chim YH, Munro J, McGhee EJ, Sumpton D et al (2015). Polarized Cell Motility Induces Hydrogen Peroxide to Inhibit Cofilin via Cysteine Oxidation. Current Biology 25: 1520-1525.

Hernandez-Fernaud JR, Ruengeler E, Casazza A, Neilson LJ, Pulleine E, Santi A et al (2017). Secreted CLIC3 drives cancer progression through its glutathione-dependent oxidoreductase activity. Nat Commun 8: 17.

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