Adherent cells must be anchored to an appropriate extracellular matrix (ECM) for survival and proper functioning. Structural features of the ECM at various lengthscales affect cellular response. Several techniques have been developed to achieve patterning of molecules such as ECM molecules at the sub-micron scale. These techniques that include dip-pen lithography, atomic force microscopy and focused ion beam lithrography are however time-consuming, expensive and limited to small-area patterning and not readily scalable for multiple protein patterning.
Researchers at the University of Michigan have developed a method for patterning molecules (e.g. cell adhesion molecules) at the nanoscale level that is (1) inexpensive, (2) rapid, and scalable to (3) large surface areas and (4) multiple biomolecules. This method has been used to pattern cell adhesion proteins onto a polymeric substrate as a parallel array and criss-cross pattern via a crack-pattern formation approach. Cell adhesion, spreading and retraction is controlled by modulating the spacing, width and depth of the cracks. The crack features are determined by the choice of mechanical properties of the substrate and layers and by the mechanical stimulus applied to the system, thus rendering this approach scalable and versatile.
Applications and Advantages
- Protein patterning for controlled cell adhesion and-nl-spreading.
- Patterning of materials to exploit specific affinities-nl-e.g. hydrophobic vs. hydrophilic.
- Inexpensive, rapid and scalable large surface
- Amenable to multiple biomolecules