Cell fluidics: producing cellular streams on micropatterned synthetic surfaces.

Research paper by Maurizio M Ventre, Francesco F Valle, Michele M Bianchi, Fabio F Biscarini, Paolo A PA Netti

Indexed on: 30 Nov '11Published on: 30 Nov '11Published in: Langmuir


Patterning cell-adhesive molecules on material surfaces provides a powerful tool for controlling and guiding cell locomotion and migration. Here we report fast, reliable, easy to implement methods to fabricate large patterns of proteins on synthetic substrates to control the direction and speed of cells. Two common materials exhibiting very different protein adsorption capacities, namely, polystyrene and Teflon, were functionalized with micrometric stripes of laminin. The protein was noncovalently immobilized onto the surface by following either lithographically controlled wetting (LCW) or micromolding in capillaries (MIMIC). These techniques proved to be sufficiently mild so as not to interfere with the protein adhesion capability. Cells adhered onto the functionalized stripes and remained viable for more than 20 h. During this time frame, cells migrated along the lanes and the dynamics of motion was strongly affected by the substrate surface chemistry and culturing conditions. In particular, enhanced mismatches of cell adhesive properties obtained by the juxtaposition of bare and laminin-functionalized Teflon caused cells to move slowly and their movement to be highly confined. The patterning procedure was also effective at guiding migration on conventional cell culture dishes that were functionalized with laminin patterns, even in the presence of serum proteins, although to a lesser extent compared to that for Teflon. This work demonstrates the possibility of creating well-defined, long-range cellular streams on synthetic substrates by pursuing straightforward functionalizing techniques that can be implemented for a broad class of materials under conventional, long-time cell-culturing conditions. The procedure effectively confines cells to migrate along predefined patterns and can be implemented in different biomedical and biotechnological applications.