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Integr Biol (Camb). 2012 Dec;4(12):1508-21. doi: 10.1039/c2ib20029e.

A chemically-defined screening platform reveals behavioral similarities between primary human mesenchymal stem cells and endothelial cells.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1550 Engineering Dr., Madison, WI 53706, USA.


Chemically defined substrates, which rigorously control protein-surface and cell-surface interactions, can be used to probe the effects of specific biomolecules on cell behavior. Here we combined a chemically-defined, array-based format with automated, time-lapse microscopy to efficiently screen cell-substrate interactions. Self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) of alkanethiolates bearing oligo(ethylene glycol) units and reactive terminal groups were used to present cell adhesion peptides while minimizing non-specific protein interactions. Specifically, we describe rapid fabrication of arrays of 1 mm spots, which present varied densities of the integrin-binding ligand Gly-Arg-Gly-Asp-Ser-Pro (GRGDSP). Results indicate that cell attachment, cell spreading, and proliferation exhibit strong dependencies on GRGDSP density for both human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) and human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). Furthermore, relative spreading and proliferation over a broad range of GRGDSP densities were similar for both primary cell types, and detailed comparison between cell behaviors identified a 1 : 1 correlation between spreading and proliferation for both HUVECs and hMSCs. Finally, time-lapse microscopy of SAM arrays revealed distinct adhesion-dependent migratory behaviors for HUVECs and hMSCs. These results demonstrate the benefits of using an array-based screening platform for investigating cell function. While the proof-of-concept focuses on simple cellular properties, the quantitative similarities observed for hMSCs and HUVECs provides a direct example of how phenomena that would not easily be predicted can be shown to correlate between different cell types.

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