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Cancer Cell death Cell cycle Cytoskeleton Exo/endocytosis Differentiation Division Organelles Signalling Stem cells Trafficking
Cell Biology International (2004) 28, 229–236 (Printed in Great Britain)
Investigating the limits of filopodial sensing: a brief report using SEM to image the interaction between 10 nm high nano-topography and fibroblast filopodia
M.J Dalbya*, M.O Riehlea, H Johnstoneb, S Affrossmanb and A.S.G Curtisa
aCentre for Cell Engineering, Institute of Biomedical and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, Joseph Black Building, Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK
bDepartment of Pure and Applied Chemistry, University of Strathclyde, Thomas Graham Building, Cathedral Street, Glasgow G1 1XL, UK


Having the ability to control cell behaviour would be of great advantage in tissue engineering. One method of gaining control over cell adhesion, proliferation, guidance and differentiation is use of topography. Whilst it has be known for some time that cells can be guided by micro-topography, it is only recently becoming clear that cells will respond strongly to nano-scale topography. The fact that cells will take cues from their micro- and nano-environment suggests that the cells are in some way ‘spatially aware’. It is likely that cells probe the shape of their surroundings using filopodia, and that this initial filopodia/topography interaction may be critical to down-stream cell reactions to biomaterials, or indeed, the extracellular matrix. One intriguing question is how small a feature can cells sense? In order to investigate the limits of cell sensing, high-resolution scanning electron microscopy has been used to simultaneously view cell filopodia and 10 nm high nano-islands. Fluorescence microscopy has also been used to look at adhesion formation. The results showed distinct filopodial/nano-island interaction and changes in adhesion morphology.

Key words: Nano-topography, Nano-bioscience, Filopodia, Cell sensing, Adhesion.

*Corresponding author. Tel.: +44-141-3398855x0838; fax: +44-141-3303730

Received 24 June 2003/27 November 2003; accepted 8 December 2003


ISSN Print: 1065-6995
ISSN Electronic: 1095-8355
Published by Portland Press Limited on behalf of the International Federation for Cell Biology (IFCB)