Biomaterial arrays with defined adhesion ligand densities and matrix stiffness identify distinct phenotypes for tumorigenic and non-tumorigenic human mesenchymal cell types
Here, we aimed to investigate migration of a model tumor cell line (HT-1080 fibrosarcoma cells, HT-1080s) using synthetic biomaterials to systematically vary peptide ligand density and substrate stiffness. A range of substrate elastic moduli were investigated by using poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) hydrogel arrays (0.34–17 kPa) and self-assembled monolayer (SAM) arrays (∼0.1–1 GPa), while cell adhesion was tuned by varying the presentation of Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD)-containing peptides. HT-1080 motility was insensitive to cell adhesion ligand density on RGD-SAMs, as they migrated with similar speed and directionality for a wide range of RGD densities (0.2–5% mol fraction RGD). Similarly, HT-1080 migration speed was weakly dependent on adhesion on 0.34 kPa PEG surfaces. On 13 kPa surfaces, a sharp initial increase in cell speed was observed at low RGD concentration, with no further changes observed as RGD concentration was increased further. An increase in cell speed ∼two-fold for the 13 kPa relative to the 0.34 kPa PEG surface suggested an important role for substrate stiffness in mediating motility, which was confirmed for HT-1080s migrating on variable modulus PEG hydrogels with constant RGD concentration. Notably, despite ∼two-fold changes in cell speed over a wide range of moduli, HT-1080s adopted rounded morphologies on all surfaces investigated, which contrasted with well spread primary human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs). Taken together, our results demonstrate that HT-1080s are morphologically distinct from primary mesenchymal cells (hMSCs) and migrate with minimal dependence on cell adhesion for surfaces within a wide range of moduli, whereas motility is strongly influenced by matrix mechanical properties.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Emerging Investigators