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Keywords:

  • cell migration;
  • gradients;
  • micropatterns;
  • topography

Abstract

This work reports the design of and experimentation with a topographically patterned cell culture substrate of variable local density and anisotropy as a facile and efficient platform to guide the organization and migration of cells in spatially desirable patterns. Using UV-assisted capillary force lithography, an optically transparent microstructured layer of a UV curable poly(urethane acrylate) resin is fabricated and employed as a cell-culture substrate after coating with fibronectin. With variable local pattern density and anisotropy present in a single cell-culture substrate, the differential polarization of cell morphology and movement in a single experiment is quantitatively characterized. It is found that cell shape and velocity are exquisitely sensitive to variation in the local anisotropy of the two-dimensional rectangular lattice arrays, with cell elongation and speed decreasing on symmetric lattice patterns. It is also found that cells could integrate orthogonal spatial cues when determining the direction of cell orientation and movement. Furthermore, cells preferentially migrate toward the topographically denser areas from sparser ones. Consistent with these results, it is demonstrated that systematic variation of local densities of rectangular lattice arrays enable a planar assembly of cells into a specified location. It is envisioned that lithographically defined substrates of variable local density and anisotropy not only provide a new route to tailoring the cell-material interface but could serve as a template for advanced tissue engineering.