The basement membrane (BM) of the corneal epithelium presents biophysical cues in the form of topography and compliance that can impact the phenotype and behaviors of cells and their nuclei through modulation of cytoskeletal dynamics. In addition, it is also well known that the intrinsic biochemical attributes of BMs can modulate cell behaviors. In this study, the influence of the combination of exogenous coating of extracellular matrix proteins (ECM) (fibronectin-collagen [FNC]) with substratum topography was investigated on cytoskeletal architecture as well as alignment and migration of immortalized corneal epithelial cells. In the absence of FNC coating, a significantly greater percentage of cells aligned parallel with the long axis of the underlying anisotropically ordered topographic features; however, their ability to migrate was impaired. Additionally, changes in the surface area, elongation, and orientation of cytoskeletal elements were differentially influenced by the presence or absence of FNC. These results suggest that the effects of topographic cues on cells are modulated by the presence of surface-associated ECM proteins. These findings have relevance to experiments using cell cultureware with biomimetic biophysical attributes as well as the integration of biophysical cues in tissue-engineering strategies and the development of improved prosthetics.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering