Microcontact printing of novel co-polymers in combination with proteins for cell-biological applications

Abstract

Microcontact printing (μcP) is a cost effective and simple method to create chemically micropatterned surfaces for cell biological applications. We have combined the technique with the spontaneous molecular assembly of a polycationic PEG-grafted copolymer, poly-l-lysine-g-poly(ethylene glycol) (PLL-g-PEG). PLL-g-PEG with ω-functionalized PEG chains was print-transferred onto tissue culture polystyrene (TCPS) or glass substrates, resulting in patterns with a lateral resolution down to 1 μm. Subsequently, dipping in an aqueous solution of non-functionalized PLL-g-PEG was used to backfill the non-printed regions of the surface, rendering them highly protein and thus cell resistant. In a second approach, proteins were stamped and a PLL-g-PEG backfill was applied for passivation of the bare surface regions. Printing of peptide(RGD)-functionalized PLL-g-PEG or proteins combined with a subsequent PLL-g-PEG backfill can be applied to a wide variety of substrate materials with negatively charged surfaces such as TCPS, glass and many metal oxides. We have tested the printed surfaces with human foreskin fibroblasts for cell adhesion and long-term performance and with fish epidermal keratocytes for cell motility and short-time behaviour. Both cell types reacted selectively to the surface micropatterns. Fibroblasts adhered to the printed (adhesive) regions only, where they remained attached up to at least 1 week and were even able to proliferate. Keratocyte spreading and motility were also directed by the geometry of the underlying patterns. The results prove that μcP in conjunction with the use of PLL-g-PEG and its derivatives provides a simple and robust alternative to previously reported micropatterning methods for future cell biological and biotechnological applications.

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Microcontact printing of novel co-polymers in combination with proteins for cell-biological applications