Dynamic control of cell adhesion on substrates is a useful technology in tissue engineering and basic biology. This paper describes a method for the control of cell adhesion on amino-bearing surfaces by reversible conjugation of an anti-fouling polymer, poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG), via a newly developed photocleavable linker, 1-(5-methoxy-2-nitro-4-prop-2-ynyloxyphenyl)ethylN-succinimidyl carbonate (1). This molecule has alkyne and succinimidyl carbonate at each end, which are connected by photocleavable 2-nitrobenzyl ester. Under this molecular design, the molecule crosslinked azides and amines, whose linkage cleaved upon application of near-UV light. By using aminosilanised glass and silicon as model substrates, we studied their reversible surface modification with PEG–azide (Mw = 5000) based on contact angle measurements, ellipsometry, and AFM morphological observations. Protein adsorption and cell adhesion dramatically changed by PEGylation and the following irradiation, which can be used for cellular patterning. Also, the capability of the substrate to change cell adhesiveness by photoirradiation during cell cultivation was demonstrated by inducing cell migration. We believe this method will be useful for dynamic patterning of cells on protein-based scaffolds.
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