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Eur J Cell Biol. 2006 Apr;85(3-4):219-24. Epub 2005 Oct 10.

Lateral spacing of integrin ligands influences cell spreading and focal adhesion assembly.

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Department of New Materials and Biosystems, Max-Planck-Institute for Metals Research, Heisenbergstr. 3, D-70 569 Stuttgart, Germany.


Cell-extracellular matrix (cell-ECM) interactions mediated by integrin receptors are essential for providing positional and environmental information necessary for many cell functions, such as proliferation, differentiation and survival. In vitro studies on cell adhesion to randomly adsorbed molecules on substrates have been limited to sub-micrometer patches, thus preventing the detailed study of structural arrangement of integrins and their ligands. In this article, we illustrate the role of the distance between integrin ligands, namely the RGD (arginine-glycine-aspartate) sequence present in ECM proteins, in the control of cell adhesion. By using substrates, which carry cyclic RGD peptides arranged in highly defined nanopatterns, we investigated the dynamics of cell spreading and the molecular composition of adhesion sites in relation to a fixed spacing between the peptides on the surface. Our novel approach for in vitro studies on cell adhesion indicates that not only the composition, but also the spatial organization of the extracellular environment is important in regulating cell-ECM interactions.

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