It is becoming increasingly evident that cell biology research can be considerably advanced through the use of bioengineered tools enabled by nanoscale technologies. Recent advances in nanopatterning techniques pave the way for engineering biomaterial surfaces that control cellular interactions from the nano- to the microscale, allowing more precise quantitative experimentation capturing multi-scale aspects of complex tissue physiology in vitro. The spatially and temporally controlled display of extracellular signaling cues on nanopatterned surfaces (e. g., cues in the form of chemical ligands, controlled stiffness, texture, etc.) that can now be achieved on biologically relevant length scales is particularly attractive enabling experimental platform for investigating fundamental mechanisms of adhesion-mediated cell signaling. Here, we present an overview of bio-nanopatterning methods, with the particular focus on the recent advances on the use of nanofabrication techniques as enabling tools for studying the effects of cell adhesion and signaling on cell function. We also highlight the impact of nanoscale engineering in controlling cell-material interfaces, which can have profound implications for future development of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.
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