Generation of Multicue Cellular Microenvironments by UV-photopatterning of Three-dimensional Cell Culture Substrates

Cas van der Putten, Mirko D'Urso, Maaike Bril, Thomas E Woud, Carlijn V C Bouten, Nicholas A Kurniawan

Published: June 2022


The extracellular matrix is an important regulator of cell function. Environmental cues existing in the cellular microenvironment, such as ligand distribution and tissue geometry, have been increasingly shown to play critical roles in governing cell phenotype and behavior. However, these environmental cues and their effects on cells are often studied separately using in vitro platforms that isolate individual cues, a strategy that heavily oversimplifies the complex in vivo situation of multiple cues. Engineering approaches can be particularly useful to bridge this gap, by developing experimental setups that capture the complexity of the in vivo microenvironment, yet retain the degree of precision and manipulability of in vitro systems.,

This study highlights an approach combining ultraviolet (UV)-based protein patterning and lithography-based substrate microfabrication, which together enable high-throughput investigation into cell behaviors in multicue environments. By means of maskless UV-photopatterning, it is possible to create complex, adhesive protein distributions on three-dimensional (3D) cell culture substrates on chips that contain a variety of well-defined geometrical cues. The proposed technique can be employed for culture substrates made from different polymeric materials and combined with adhesive patterned areas of a broad range of proteins. With this approach, single cells, as well as monolayers, can be subjected to combinations of geometrical cues and contact guidance cues presented by the patterned substrates. Systematic research using combinations of chip materials, protein patterns, and cell types can thus provide fundamental insights into cellular responses to multicue environments.,

Full Access Link: Journal of Visualized Experiments