Increasing Cell Motility

ChE Associate Professor Anand Asthagiri is featured in the journal Langmuir for showing how changing the geometry of a cell can enhance the cell’s motility.

Basic micropattern shapes, such as stripes and teardrops, affect individual facets of cell motility, such as migration speed and directional bias, respectively. Here, we test the idea that these individual effects on cell motility can be brought together to achieve multidimensional improvements in cell behavior through the modular reconstruction of the simpler “building block” micropatterns. While a modular design strategy is conceptually appealing, current evidence suggests that combining environmental cues, especially molecular cues, such as growth factors and matrix proteins, elicits a highly nonlinear, synergistic cell response. Here, we show that, unlike molecular cues, combining stripe and teardrop geometric cues into a hybrid, spear-shaped micropattern yields combinatorial benefits in cell speed, persistence, and directional bias. Furthermore, cell migration speed and persistence are enhanced in a predictable, additive manner on the modular spear-shaped design. Meanwhile, the spear micropattern also improved the directional bias of cell movement compared to the standard teardrop geometry, revealing that combining geometric features can also lead to unexpected synergistic effects in certain aspects of cell motility. Our findings demonstrate that the modular design of hybrid micropatterns from simpler building block shapes achieves combinatorial improvements in cell motility. These findings have implications for engineering biomaterials that effectively mix and match micropatterns to modulate and direct cell motility in applications, such as tissue engineering and lab-on-a-chip devices.


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Related Faculty: Anand Asthagiri

Related Departments:Chemical Engineering