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J Theor Biol. 2011 Apr 7;274(1):120-30. doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2011.01.007. Epub 2011 Jan 19.

Integrin organization: linking adhesion ligand nanopatterns with altered cell responses.

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Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Michigan, 2300 Hayward Street, 3074 HH Dow Bldg, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.


Integrin receptors bind to adhesion ligand (e.g. arginine-glycine-aspartic acid or RGD containing peptides) on extracellular matrix and organize into high-density complexes which mediate many cell behaviors. Biomaterials with RGD nanopatterned into multivalent "islands" (∼30-70 nm diameter) have been shown to alter cell responses, although the length scale of pattern features is orders of magnitude smaller than adhesion complexes. In this work, we employ together for the first time an extensive data set on osteoblast responses as a function of ligand nanopatterns, a computational model of integrin binding to ligand nanopatterns, and new measures of integrin organization on the cell surface. We quantify, at multiple length scales, integrin organization generated in silico as a function of RGD nanopattern parameters. We develop a correlative model relating these measures of in silico integrin organization and in vitro MC3T3 preosteoblast cell responses as functions of the same RGD nanopatterns: cell spreading correlates with the number of bound integrins, focal adhesion kinase (FAK) phosphorylation correlates with small, homogeneously distributed clusters of integrins, and osteogenic differentiation correlates with large, heterogeneously distributed integrin clusters. These findings highlight the significance of engineering biomaterials at the nanolevel and suggest new approaches to understanding the mechanisms linking integrin organization to cell responses.

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