Artem Melnykov     Ali Davarian     Yanfei Jiang     Behzad Babaei
Golrokh Malihi     Bill McConnaughey     Guy Genin     Elliot Elson

     Tony Pryse

     Senior Scientist

     Manager of the departmental Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy and Confocal Imaging Facility

     My most important job is trouble-shooting the departmental coffee/espresso maker and keeping it in good working order.

B.S. Chemistry, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, 1968
Ph.D. Biophysical Chemistry, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, 1990

Research interests     
I'm involved in making collagen-based cardiomyocyte tissues to study their mechanical and electrical properties. We use cardiomyocytes derived from induced pluripotent stem cells supplied by our collaborators at InVivoSciences in Madison, WI. We plan to look at the development of basal force and twitch force over time at various densities of added fibroblasts. We are also setting up an imaging system to monitor the rapid spread of excitation through these 3-D tissues.

Mailing Address

Tony Pryse
Box 8231
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics
Washington University School of Medicine
St. Louis, Missouri 63110


Location: McDonnell Sciences 225
Phone: (314) 362-3345
Fax: (314) 362-7183

Selected publications

Pryse, K. M., X. Rong, et al. (2012). Confidence Intervals for Concentration and Brightness from Fluorescence Fluctuation Measurements. Biophys. J. 103(5): 898-906.

The theory of photon count histogram (PCH) analysis describes the distribution of fluorescence fluctuation amplitudes due to populations of fluorophores diffusing through a focused laser beam and provides a rigorous framework through which the brightnesses and concentrations of the fluorophores can be determined. In practice, however, the brightnesses and concentrations of only a few components can be identified. Brightnesses and concentrations are determined by a nonlinear least-squares fit of a theoretical model to the experimental PCH derived from a record of fluorescence intensity fluctuations. The chi-squared hypersurface in the neighborhood of the optimum parameter set can have varying degrees of curvature, due to the intrinsic curvature of the model, the specific parameter values of the system under study, and the relative noise in the data. Because of this varying curvature, parameters estimated from the least-squares analysis have varying degrees of uncertainty associated with them. There are several methods for assigning confidence intervals to the parameters, but these methods have different efficacies for PCH data. Here, we evaluate several approaches to confidence interval estimation for PCH data, including asymptotic standard error, likelihood joint-confidence region, likelihood confidence intervals, skew-correlation and accelerated bootstrap (BCa), and Monte Carlo residual resampling methods. We study these with a model two-dimensional membrane system for simplicity, but the principles are applicable as well to fluorophores diffusing in three-dimensional solution. Using simulated fluorescence fluctuation data, we find the BCa method to be particularly well-suited for estimating confidence intervals in PCH analysis, and several other methods to be less so. Using the BCa method and additional simulated fluctuation data, we find that confidence intervals can be reduced dramatically for a specific non-Gaussian beam profile.

Lee, S.-L., A. Nekouzadeh, et al. (2012). Physically-induced cytoskeleton remodeling of cells in three-dimensional culture. PLoS One 7(12):

Characterizing how cells in three-dimensional (3D) environments or natural tissues respond to biophysical stimuli is a longstanding challenge in biology and tissue engineering. We demonstrate a strategy to monitor morphological and mechanical responses of contractile fibroblasts in a 3D environment. Cells responded to stretch through specific, cell-wide mechanisms involving staged retraction and reinforcement. Retraction responses occurred for all orientations of stress fibers and cellular protrusions relative to the stretch direction, while reinforcement responses, including extension of cellular processes and stress fiber formation, occurred predominantly in the stretch direction. A previously unreported role of F-actin clumps was observed, with clumps possibly acting as F-actin reservoirs for retraction and reinforcement responses during stretch. Responses were consistent with a model of cellular sensitivity to local physical cues. These findings suggest mechanisms for global actin cytoskeleton remodeling in non-muscle cells and provide insight into cellular responses important in pathologies such as fibrosis and hypertension.

Thomopoulos, S., R. Das, et al. (2011). Fibrocartilage Tissue Engineering: The Role of the Stress Environment on Cell Morphology and Matrix Expression. Tissue Eng., Part A 17(7 and 8): 1039-1053.

Although much is known about the effects of uniaxial mechanical loading on fibrocartilage development, the stress fields to which fibrocartilaginous regions are subjected during development are multiaxial. That fibrocartilage develops at tendon-to-bone attachments and in compressive regions of tendons is well established. However, the three-dimensional (3D) nature of the stresses needed for the development of fibrocartilage is not known. Here, we developed and applied an in vitro system to determine whether fibrocartilage can develop under a state of periodic hydrostatic tension in which only a single principal component of stress is compressive. This question is vital to efforts to mechanically guide morphogenesis and matrix expression in engineered tissue replacements. Mesenchymal stromal cells in a 3D culture were exposed to compressive and tensile stresses as a result of an external tensile hydrostatic stress field. The stress field was characterized through mechanical modeling. Tensile cyclic stresses promoted spindle-shaped cells, upregulation of scleraxis and type one collagen, and cell alignment with the direction of tension. Cells experiencing a single compressive stress component exhibited rounded cell morphology and random cell orientation. No difference in mRNA expression of the genes Sox9 and aggrecan was observed when comparing tensile and compressive regions unless the medium was supplemented with the chondrogenic factor transforming growth factor beta3. In that case, Sox9 was upregulated under static loading conditions and aggrecan was upregulated under cyclic loading conditions. In conclusion, the fibrous component of fibrocartilage could be generated using only mechanical cues, but generation of the cartilaginous component of fibrocartilage required biologic factors in addition to mechanical cues. These studies support the hypothesis that the 3D stress environment influences cell activity and gene expression in fibrocartilage development.

Guo, L., D. Zhou, et al. (2010). Fatty Acid 2-Hydroxylase Mediates Diffusional Mobility of Raft-associated Lipids, GLUT4 Level, and Lipogenesis in 3T3-L1 Adipocytes. J. Biol. Chem. 285(33): 25438-25447.

Straight chain fatty acid alpha-oxidation increases during differentiation of 3T3-L1 adipocytes, leading to a marked accumulation of odd chain length fatty acyl moieties. Potential roles of this pathway in adipocyte differentiation and lipogenesis are unknown. Mammalian fatty acid 2-hydroxylase (FA2H) was recently identified and suggested to catalyze the initial step of straight chain fatty acid alpha-oxidation. Accordingly, we examined whether FA2H modulates adipocyte differentiation and lipogenesis in mature adipocytes. FA2H level markedly increases during differentiation of 3T3-L1 adipocytes, and small interfering RNAs against FA2H inhibit the differentiation process. In mature adipocytes, depletion of FA2H inhibits basal and insulin-stimulated glucose uptake and lipogenesis, which are partially rescued by the enzymic product of FA2H, 2-hydroxy palmitic acid. Expression of fatty-acid synthase and SCD1 was decreased in FA2H-depleted cells, and levels of GLUT4 and insulin receptor proteins were reduced. 2-Hydroxy fatty acids are enriched in cellular sphingolipids, which are components of membrane rafts. Accelerated diffusional mobility of raft-associated lipids was shown to enhance degredation of GLUT4 and insulin receptor in adipocytes. Consistent with this, depletion of FA2H appeared to increase raft lipid mobility as it significantly accelerated the rates of fluorescence recovery after photobleaching measurements of lipid rafts labeled with Alexa 488-conjugated cholera toxin subunit B. Moreover, the enhanced recovery rates were partially reversed by treatment with 2-hydroxy palmitic acid. In conclusion, our findings document the novel role of FA2H in adipocyte lipogenesis possibly by modulation of raft fluidity and level of GLUT4.

Nekouzadeh, A., K. M. Pryse, et al. (2008). Stretch-activated force shedding, force recovery, and cytoskeletal remodeling in contractile fibroblasts. J Biomech 41(14): 2964-71.

The stress fiber network within contractile fibroblasts structurally reinforces and provides tension, or "tone", to tissues such as those found in healing wounds. Stress fibers have previously been observed to polymerize in response to mechanical forces. We observed that, when stretched sufficiently, contractile fibroblasts diminished the mechanical tractions they exert on their environment through depolymerization of actin filaments then restored tissue tension and rebuilt actin stress fibers through staged Ca(++)-dependent processes. These staged Ca(++)-modulated contractions consisted of a rapid phase that ended less than a minute after stretching, a plateau of inactivity, and a final gradual phase that required several minutes to complete. Active contractile forces during recovery scaled with the degree of rebuilding of the actin cytoskeleton. This complementary action demonstrates a programmed regulatory mechanism that protects cells from excessive stretch through choreographed active mechanical and biochemical healing responses.

Nekouzadeh, A., K. M. Pryse, et al. (2007). A simplified approach to quasi-linear viscoelastic modeling. J Biomech 40(14): 3070-8.

The fitting of quasi-linear viscoelastic (QLV) constitutive models to material data often involves somewhat cumbersome numerical convolution. A new approach to treating quasi-linearity in 1-D is described and applied to characterize the behavior of reconstituted collagen. This approach is based on a new principle for including nonlinearity and requires considerably less computation than other comparable models for both model calibration and response prediction, especially for smoothly applied stretching. Additionally, the approach allows relaxation to adapt with the strain history. The modeling approach is demonstrated through tests on pure reconstituted collagen. Sequences of "ramp-and-hold" stretching tests were applied to rectangular collagen specimens. The relaxation force data from the "hold" was used to calibrate a new "adaptive QLV model" and several models from literature, and the force data from the "ramp" was used to check the accuracy of model predictions. Additionally, the ability of the models to predict the force response on a reloading of the specimen was assessed. The "adaptive QLV model" based on this new approach predicts collagen behavior comparably to or better than existing models, with much less computation.

Marquez, J. P., G. M. Genin, et al. (2006). Cellular and matrix contributions to tissue construct stiffness increase with cellular concentration. Ann Biomed Eng 34(9): 1475-82.

The mechanics of bio-artificial tissue constructs result from active and passive contributions of cells and extracellular matrix (ECM). We delineated these for a fibroblast-populated matrix (FPM) consisting of chick embryo fibroblast cells in a type I collagen ECM through mechanical testing, mechanical modeling, and selective biochemical elimination of tissue components. From a series of relaxation tests, we found that contributions to overall tissue mechanics from both cells and ECM increase exponentially with the cell concentration. The force responses in these relaxation tests exhibited a logarithmic decay over the 3600 second test duration. The amplitudes of these responses were nearly linear with the amplitude of the applied stretch. The active component of cellular forces rose dramatically for FPMs containing higher cell concentrations.

Pryse, K. M., A. Nekouzadeh, et al. (2003). Incremental mechanics of collagen gels: new experiments and a new viscoelastic model. Ann Biomed Eng 31(10): 1287-96.

Paired incremental uniaxial step (i.e., relaxation) and ramp tests were conducted simultaneously on four (nominally) identical samples of type I collagen gel, over a direct strain range 0 < epsilon < 0.2. The paired step and ramp responses could not both be predicted by a simple viscoelastic constitutive relation (either linear or Fung-type), but could be predicted reasonably accurately by a general nonlinear viscoelastic relation with a strain-dependent relaxation spectrum, of the form sigma(t) = f(t)-infinity g(t-tau,epsilon)[d(epsilon)(tau)/d(tau)]d(tau). Based on a four-term exponential-series approximation, we measured the stiffness moduli and time constants of the relaxation function, g(t,epsilon), for the four gel samples that we tested, and found that the time constants were independent of strain but the moduli increased strongly with strain. Further, we found that the time constants did not vary across the four gels, but the moduli varied by a factor of about 2 across the gels. Some additional tests show features of the response of collagen gels to cycles of application and removal of loading.

Roberts, R. L., M. A. Barbieri, et al. (1999). Endosome fusion in living cells overexpressing GFP-rab5. J. Cell Sci. 112(21): 3667-3675.

CHO and BHK cells which overexpress either wild-type rab5 or rab5:Q79L, a constitutively active rab5 mutant, develop enlarged cytoplasmic vesicles that exhibit many characteristics of early endosomes including immunoreactivity for rab5 and transferrin receptor. Time-lapse video microscopy shows the enlarged endosomes arise primarily by fusion of smaller vesicles. These fusion events occur mostly by a "bridge" fusion mechanism in which the initial opening between vesicles does not expand; instead, membrane flows slowly and continuously from the smaller to the larger endosome in the fusing pair, through a narrow, barely perceptible membranous "bridge" between them. The unique aspect of rab5-mediated "bridge" fusion is the persistence of a tight constriction at the site where vesicles merge and we hypothesize that this constriction results from the relatively slow disassembly of a putative docking/fusion complex. To determine the relation of rab5 to the fusion "bridge", we used confocal fluorescence microscopy to monitor endosome fusion in cells overexpressing GFP-rab5 fusion proteins. Vesicle docking in these cells is accompanied by recruitment of the GFP-rab5 into a brightly fluorescent spot in the "bridge" region between fusing vesicles that persists throughout the entire length of the fusion event and which often persist for minutes following endosome fusion. Other endosomal membrane markers, including FM4-64, are not concentrated in fusion "bridges". These results support the idea that the GFP-rab5 spots represent the localized accumulation of GFP-rab5 between fusing endosomes and not simply overlap of adjacent membranes. The idea that the GFP-rab5 spots do not represent membrane overlap is further supported by experiments using photobleaching techniques and confocal imaging which show that GFP-rab5 localized in spots between fusion couplets is resistant to diffusion while GFP-rab5 on endosomal membranes away from these spots rapidly diffuses with a rate const. of about 1.0 (+/-0.3) x 10^-9 cm2/s.

Pryse, K. M., T. G. Bruckman, et al. (1992). Kinetics and mechanism of the folding of cytochrome c. Biochemistry 31(22): 5127-36.

The reversible folding of cytochrome c in urea at pH 4.0 was investigated by repetitive pressure perturbation kinetics and by equilibrium spectroscopic methods. Two folding reactions were observed in the 1 ms to 10 s time range. The rates and amplitudes of these reactions depend on urea concentration in a complex manner, which is different for each process. The absorbance spectra of the kinetic amplitudes of the two reactions also differ from each other. A model with a three-state mechanism can quantitatively account for all of the kinetic and equilibrium data, and it enables us to determine the rate constants and volume changes of the two steps. If a rapid protonation step is added to the mechanism, the analysis can be extended to calculate the pH dependence of the rate and amplitude of the faster folding step. This pH dependence is in excellent agreement with previously published data [Tsong, T. Y. (1977) J. Biol. Chem. 252, 8778-8780]. Kinetic experiments in the 695-nm band show clearly that the axial ligand methionine-80 is involved in the slow folding process and the other axial ligand, histidine-18, is involved in the fast process. Additional experiments with a cyanogen bromide fragment of the protein, and fluorescence detection of the folding kinetics of the intact protein, support an interpretation of the model in terms of known structural elements of cytochrome c. This work provides new information about the mechanism of the folding of cytochrome c, resolves conflicts in earlier interpretations, and demonstrates the applicability of the repetitive pressure perturbation kinetics method to protein folding.

Loemker, J. E., K. M. Pryse, et al. (1969). Substituent effects on H-F couplings and additivity of these effects in a series of fluorobenzene derivatives. Can. J. Chem. 47(2): 209-13.

The NMR spectra of a series of monosubstituted fluorobenzenes have been recorded and analyzed, and the substituent effects on the H-F couplings have been determined by comparison with the corresponding H-F couplings in fluorobenzene. These substituent effects have then been successfully employed in calculating the H-F couplings for a series of di- and trisubstituted fluorobenzenes.