Surface-Grafted Nanogel Arrays Direct Cell Adhesion and Motility
It has long been appreciated that material chemistry and topology profoundly affect cell adhesion and migration. Here, aqueous poly(N-isopropyl acrylamide) nanogels are designed, synthesized and printed in form of colloidal arrays on glass substrates using wrinkled polydimethylsiloxane templates. Using low-temperature plasma treatment, nanogels are chemically grafted onto glass supports thus leading to highly stable nanogel layers in cell culture media. Liquid cell atomic force microscopy investigations show that surface-grafted nanogels retain their swelling behavior in aqueous media and that extracellular matrix protein coating do not alter their stability and topography. It is demonstrated that surface-grafted nanogels could serve as novel substrates for the analysis of cell adhesion and migration. Nanogels influence size, speed, and dynamics of focal adhesions and cell motility forcing cells to move along highly directional trajectories.