Engineered nanostructures of antigen provide an effective means for regulating mast cell activation

Zhao Deng, I. Chun Weng, Jie Ren Li, Huan Yuan Chen, Fu-Tong Liu, Gang-yu Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Nanostructures containing 2,4-dinitrophenyl (DNP) as antigen were designed and produced to investigate antibody-mediated activation of mast cells. The design consists of nanogrids of DNP termini inlaid in alkanethiol self-assembled monolayers (SAMs). Using scanning probe-based nanografting, nanometer precision was attained for designed geometry, size, and periodicity. Rat basophilic leukemia (RBL) cells exhibited high sensitivity to the geometry and local environment of DNP presented on these nanostructures. The impact included cellular adherence, spreading, membrane morphology, cytoskeleton structure, and activation. The highest level of spreading and activation was induced by nanogrids of 17 nm line width and 40 nm periodicity, with DNP haptens 1.4 nm above the surroundings. The high efficacy is attributed to two main factors. First, DNP sites in the nanostructure are highly accessible by anti-DNP IgE during recognition. Second, the arrangement or geometry of DNP termini in nanostructures promotes clustering of FcεRI receptors that are prelinked to IgE. The clustering effectively initiates Lyn-mediated signaling cascades, ultimately leading to the degranulation of RBL cells. This work demonstrates an important concept: that nanostructures of ligands provide new and effective cues for directing cellular signaling processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8672-8683
Number of pages12
JournalACS Nano
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 22 2011


  • antibody-mediated activation
  • atomic force microscopy
  • engineered nanostructures
  • mast cells
  • nanografting
  • self-assembled monolayers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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