Substrates for Cell Adhesion Prepared via Active Site-Directed Immobilization of a Protein Domain

William L. Murphy, Kwesi O. Mercurius, Shohei Koide, Milan Mrksich*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Recent studies in basic cell biology and bioengineering call for model substrates that present active proteins, with control over protein density, pattern, and orientation, to more directly mimic the natural extracellular matrix. Herein we demonstrate a strategy for controlled, irreversible immobilization of a cell adhesion protein domain onto an otherwise bioinert substrate with well-defined protein orientation and density. Our approach uses a tri(ethylene glycol)-terminated self-assembled monolayer presenting a phosphonate ligand that is used to immobilize an engineered fusion protein. One component of the fusion protein, the 22 kDa serine esterase cutinase, reacts with the surface-bound ligand to form a site-specific covalent adduct, and the second component of the fusion protein is therefore immobilized on the surface. Here we use this approach to immobilize an engineered version of the 12 kDa 10th domain of fibronectin III (FnIII 10Eng) to direct cell adhesion. Substrates presenting this protein mediated rapid attachment and spreading of Swiss 3T3 fibroblasts, while substrates presenting cutinase or the phosphonate ligand alone did not support cell attachment. In addition, we used Chinese hamster ovary cells engineered to express specific integrin receptors to show that FnIII 10Eng interacts with multiple integrin cell surface receptors, including human α v- and α 5-containing integrins. This general approach, in principle, can be used to immobilize any protein with an available gene sequence, providing an enabling technique for fundamental cell biology and tissue engineering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1026-1030
Number of pages5
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 17 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Spectroscopy
  • General Materials Science
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Electrochemistry


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