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Small. 2011 Oct 17;7(20):2906-13. doi: 10.1002/smll.201100753. Epub 2011 Aug 22.

Exploring the formation of focal adhesions on patterned surfaces using super-resolution imaging.

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Research Center for Applied Sciences, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan.


The formation of focal adhesions on various sizes of fibronectin patterns, ranging from 200 μm to 250 nm, was systematically investigated by total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy and super-resolution imaging. It was found that cells adhered to and spread on these micro/nanopatterns, forming focal adhesions. On a micrometer scale the shape of the focal adhesions was elongated. However, on the nanometer scale, the shape of focal adhesions became dotlike. To further explore the distribution of focal adhesion proteins formed on surfaces, a localization-based super-resolution imaging technique was employed in order to determine the position and density of vinculin proteins. A characteristic distance of 50 nm was found between vinculin molecules in the focal adhesions, which did not depend on the size of the fibronectin nanopatterns. This distance was found to be crucial for the formation of focal adhesions. In addition, the density of vinculin at the focal adhesions formed on the nanopatterns increased as the pattern size decreased. The density of the protein was found to be 425 ± 247, 584 ± 302, and 703 ± 305 proteins μm(-2) on the 600, 400, and 250 nm fibronectin patterns respectively. Whereas 226 ± 77 proteins μm(-2) was measured for the matured focal adhesions on homogeneous fibronectin coated substrates. The increase in vinculin density implies that an increase in mechanical load was applied to the focal adhesions formed on the smaller nanopatterns.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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