Microcontact Printing: A Versatile Technique for the Study of Synaptogenic Molecules

Abstract

During synaptogenesis information exchanged locally between synaptic partners results in precise alignment of morphological and molecular specializations. For example, agrin derived from motoneurons induces localized postsynaptic differentiation at the neuromuscular synapse. Similar information molecules are thought to act at other synapses; however, techniques for directly evaluating synaptogenic activities of such molecules are lacking. Here we use agrin-induced differentiation as a model system to validate a novel approach for characterizing synaptogenic molecules. Proteins are patterned with micron scale resolution on glass coverslips by covalent microcontact printing and these substrates are used for cell culture. Postsynaptic molecules accumulate specifically at sites of contact between muscle cells and patterned agrin: a response which is quantifiable. Our results demonstrate that microcontact printing is applicable to the analysis of cellular response to locally immobilized information molecules.

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Microcontact Printing: A Versatile Technique for the Study of Synaptogenic Molecules