, Volume 11, Issue 5, pp 1127-1134,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 03 Jun 2009

Gradient lithography of engineered proteins to fabricate 2D and 3D cell culture microenvironments

Abstract

Spatial patterning of proteins is a valuable technique for many biological applications and is the prevailing tool for defining microenvironments for cells in culture, a required procedure in developmental biology and tissue engineering research. However, it is still challenging to achieve protein patterns that closely mimic native microenvironments, such as gradient protein distributions with desirable mechanical properties. By combining projection dynamic mask lithography and protein engineering with non-canonical photosensitive amino acids, we demonstrate a simple, scalable strategy to fabricate any user-defined 2D or 3D stable gradient pattern with complex geometries from an artificial extracellular matrix (aECM) protein. We show that the elastic modulus and chemical nature of the gradient profile are biocompatible and allow useful applications in cell biological research.