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Pflugers Arch. 2003 Apr;446(1):125-32. Epub 2003 Feb 15.

Photolithographically defined deposition of attachment factors as a versatile method for patterning the growth of different cell types in culture.

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Dept. of Physiology, University of Bern, Bühlplatz 5, 3012 Bern, Switzerland.


Spatially defined growth of cells in culture is a useful model for studies ranging from the characterization of cellular motility to the analysis of network behaviour in structurally defined ensembles of excitable cells. Current methodological approaches for obtaining patterned growth include sophisticated modifications of surface chemistry, stamping techniques and microfluidics. The implementation of most of these techniques requires the availability of highly specialized apparatus and some of the methods are specific for certain cell types and/or substrate materials. The goal of the present study was to develop a cell-patterning technique that can be implemented by any laboratory working with cell culture and that is highly adaptable in terms of cell types and substrate materials. The method is based on a photolithographic process that permits the patterned deposition of attachment factors of choice on surfaces previously coated with agar with a spatial resolution (maximal deviation from a straight line) of +/-3 micro m. Because agar efficiently prevents cell adhesion, patterned growth obtained with this technique displays virtually no off-pattern cell attachment. The method permitted the patterning of cardiomyocytes, fibroblasts and HeLa cells on either glass substrates or polymer-coated materials with a spatial resolution of a few micrometers.

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