Interactions of neurons with topographic nano cues affect branching morphology mimicking neuron–neuron interactions
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We study the effect of topographic nano-cues on neuronal growth-morphology using invertebrate neurons in culture. We use photolithography to fabricate substrates with repeatable line-pattern ridges of nano-scale heights of 10–150 nm. We plate leech neurons atop the patterned-substrates and compare their growth pattern to neurons plated atop non-patterned substrates. The model system allows us the analysis of single neurite–single ridge interactions. The use of high resolution electron microscopy reveals small filopodia processes that attach to the line-pattern ridges. These fine processes, that cannot be detected in light microscopy, add anchoring sites onto the side of the ridges, thus additional physical support. These interactions of the neuronal process dominantly affect the neuronal growth direction. We analyze the response of the entire neuronal branching tree to the patterned substrates and find significant effect on the growth patterns compared to non-patterned substrates. Moreover, interactions with the nano-cues trigger a growth strategy similarly to interactions with other neuronal cells, as reflected in their morphometric parameters. The number of branches and the number of neurites originating from the soma decrease following the interaction demonstrating a tendency to a more simplified neuronal branching tree. The effect of the nano-cues on the neuronal function deserves further investigation and will strengthen our understanding of the interplay between function and form.
KeywordsLeech Culture Nano-scale cues Topography Lithography Neuronal network Morphometrics analysis Neuron–neuron interaction
The authors acknowledge the EU-FP7 People IRG Grants 239482 (O.S.) and 268357 (A.S.). We thank Dr. Yossi Talyosef for technical assistance with the HR-SEM images.
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