Influence of engineered surface on cell directionality and motility

Qing Yuan Tang, Wing Yin Tong*, Jue SHI, Peng Shi, Yun Wah Lam, Stella W. Pang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Control of cell migration is important in numerous key biological processes, and is implicated in pathological conditions such as cancer metastasis and inflammatory diseases. Many previous studies indicated that cell migration could be guided by micropatterns fabricated on cell culture surfaces. In this study, we designed a polydimethylsiloxane cell culture substrate with gratings punctuated by corners and ends, and studied its effects on the behavior of MC3T3-E1 osteoblast cells. MC3T3-E1 cells elongated and aligned with the gratings, and the migration paths of the cells appeared to be guided by the grating pattern. Interestingly, more than 88% of the cells cultured on these patterns were observed to reverse their migration directions at least once during the 16 h examination period. Most of the reversal events occurred at the corners and the ends of the pattern, suggesting these localized topographical features induce an abrupt loss in directional persistence. Moreover, the cell speed was observed to increase temporarily right after each directional reversal. Focal adhesion complexes were more well-established in cells on the angular gratings than on flat surfaces, but the formation of filipodia appeared to be imbalanced at the corners and the ends, possibly leading to the loss of directional persistence. This study describes the first engineered cell culture surface that consistently induces changes in the directional persistence of adherent cells. This will provide an experimental model for the study of this phenomenon and a valuable platform to control the cell motility and directionality, which can be used for cell screening and selection.

Original languageEnglish
Article number015011
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering

User-Defined Keywords

  • cell guidance
  • cell motility
  • directional persistence
  • engineered surface
  • polydimethylsiloxane molding


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