Epithelial cells are in continuous dynamic biochemical and physical interaction with their extracellular environment. Ultimately, this interplay guides fundamental physiological processes. In these interactions, cells generate fast local and global transients of Ca2+ions, which act as key intracellular messengers. However, the mechanical triggers initiating these responses have remained unclear. Light-responsive materials offer intriguing possibilities to dynamically modify the physical niche of the cells. Here, we use a light-sensitive azobenzene-based glassy material that can be micropatterned with visible light to undergo spatiotemporally controlled deformations. The material allows mechanical stimulation of single cells or multicellular assemblies, offering unique opportunities for experimental mechanobiology. Real-time monitoring of consequential rapid intracellular Ca2+signals reveal that Piezo1 is the key mechanosensitive ion channel generating the Ca2+transients after nanoscale mechanical deformation of the cell culture substrate. Furthermore, our studies indicate that Piezo1 preferably responds to lateral material movement at cell-material interphase rather than to absolute topographical change of the substrate. Finally, experimentally verified computational modeling of the signaling kinetics suggests that the lateral mechanical stimulus triggers multiplexed intercellular signaling that involves Na+, highlighting the complexity of mechanical signaling in multicellular systems. These results give mechanistic understanding on how cells respond to material dynamics and deformations.
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|Submitted - 28 Sept 2022