Instructing cells with programmable peptide DNA hybrids

Ronit Freeman, Nicholas Stephanopoulos, Zaida Álvarez, Jacob A. Lewis, Shantanu Sur, Chris M. Serrano, Job Boekhoven, Sungsoo S. Lee, Samuel I. Stupp*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


The native extracellular matrix is a space in which signals can be displayed dynamically and reversibly, positioned with nanoscale precision, and combined synergistically to control cell function. Here we describe a molecular system that can be programmed to control these three characteristics. In this approach we immobilize peptide-DNA (P-DNA) molecules on a surface through complementary DNA tethers directing cells to adhere and spread reversibly over multiple cycles. The DNA can also serve as a molecular ruler to control the distance-dependent synergy between two peptides. Finally, we use two orthogonal DNA handles to regulate two different bioactive signals, with the ability to independently up- or downregulate each over time. This enabled us to discover that neural stem cells, derived from the murine spinal cord and organized as neurospheres, can be triggered to migrate out in response to an exogenous signal but then regroup into a neurosphere as the signal is removed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number15982
JournalNature communications
StatePublished - Jul 10 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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