Protein Adsorption as a Key Mediator in the Nanotopographical Control of Cell Behavior

Researchers from three labs in Glasgow published just last week (paper link here) a study of the combination effects of protein surface adsorption and nanotopography on cell behavior. PhD student Mr Elie Ngandu Mpoyi explains their work:

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We show in this paper that many of the topography-driven changes in adhesion and cytoskeleton organization responsible for processes such as the control of cell differentiation are mediated by the protein interface. We manufactured nanostructured polycarbonate surface comprising 150 nm-diameter pits originally defined using electron beam lithography and analyzed the effect on FN adsorption and subsequently on cell morphology and behavior using C2C12 myoblasts.

Wettability measurements and atomic force microscopy imaging showed that protein is adsorbed both within the inter-pits spaces and inside the nanopits and facilitates cell exploration of the pits. Cells responded to this coated nanotopography with the formation of fewer but larger focal adhesions and by mimicking the pit patterns within their cytoskeleton, nanoimprinting, ultimately achieving higher levels of myogenic differentiation. Both focal adhesion assembly and nanoimprinting were found to be dependent on cell contractility.

Our results demonstrate the central role of the nanoscale protein interface in mediating cell-nanotopographical interactions and show this interface works helping control the mechanotransductive cascade.

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