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Biomaterials. 2007 Nov;28(31):4608-18. Epub 2007 Jul 27.

Supramolecular crafting of cell adhesion.

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Department of Chemistry, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208, USA.


The supramolecular design of bioactive artificial extracellular matrices to control cell behavior is of critical importance in cell therapies and cell assays. Most previous work in this area has focused on polymers or monolayers which preclude control of signal density and accessibility in the nanoscale filamentous environment of natural matrices. We have used here self-assembling supramolecular nanofibers that display the cell adhesion ligand RGDS at van der Waals density to cells. Signal accessibility at this very high density has been varied by changes in molecular architecture and therefore through the supramolecular packing of monomers that form the fibers. We found that branched architectures of the monomers and the consequent lower packing efficiency and additional space for epitope motion improves signaling for cell adhesion, spreading, and migration. The use of artificial matrices with nanoscale objects with extremely high epitope densities could facilitate receptor clustering for signaling and also maximize successful binding between ligands and receptors at mobile three-dimensional interfaces between matrices and cells. Supramolecular design of artificial bioactive extracellular matrices to tune cell response may prove to be a powerful strategy in regenerative medicine and to study biological processes.

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