Cell motility on micropatterned treadmills and tracks
Surfaces micropatterned with disjointed cell adhesive/non-adhesive regions allow for precise control of cell shape, internal organization and function. In particular, substrates prepared by the reaction–diffusion ASoMic (Anisotropic Solid Microetching) method localize cells onto transparent micro-islands or tracks surrounded by an opaque, adhesion-resistant background. ASoMic is compatible with several important imaging modalities (e.g. wide-field, fluorescent, TIRF and confocal microscopies), and can be used to study and quantify various intracellular and cellular processes related to cell motility. For cells constrained on the islands, the imposed geometry controls spatial organization of the cytoskeleton, while the transparency of the islands allows for real-time analysis of cytoskeletal dynamics. For cells on transparent, linear tracks, the high optical contrast between these adhesive regions and the surrounding non-adhesive background allows for straightforward quantification of the key parameters describing cell motility. Both types of systems provide analytical-quality data that can assist fundamental studies of cell locomotion and can provide a technological basis for cell motility microassays.