Micropatterned dynamically adhesive substrates for cell migration

Vatsan Sriraghavan, Ravi A. Desai, Youngeun Kwon, Milan Mrksich, Christopher S. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


We present a novel approach to examine cell migration using dynamically adhesive substrates consisting of three spatially and functionally distinct regions: the first is permanently nonadhesive to cells, the second is permanently adhesive, and the final region is electrochemically switched from nonadhesive to adhesive. We applied a double microcontact printing approach to pattern gold surfaces with carboxylic acid-terminated self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) that permit initial cell adhesion, with methyl-terminated SAMs that permit adsorption of a nonadhesive, and with tri(ethylene glycol)-terminated SAMs that can be electrochemically "switched" to permit cell migration from a prespecified pattern onto a new pattern. Using these substrates, we investigated the migration of epithelial cells from monolayers onto narrow, branching tracks of extracellular matrix in order to characterize how lead cells influence the direction of movement of followers. Time-lapse imaging revealed that, on average, five cells consistently chose one branch before other cells entered the second branch, providing evidence to suggest that intercellular communication plays an important role in guiding the cohesive movement of epithelial sheets. This platform may be of use in furthering our understanding of the mechanisms underlying cellular decision-making during migration in both individual and multicellular contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17733-17738
Number of pages6
Issue number22
StatePublished - Nov 16 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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