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Kai B. Kang, Brian D. Lawrence, X. Raymond Gao, Yuncin Luo, Qiang Zhou, Aihong Liu, Victor H. Guaiquil, Mark I. Rosenblatt; Micro- and Nanoscale Topographies on Silk Regulate Gene Expression of Human Corneal Epithelial Cells. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2017;58(14):6388-6398. doi: 10.1167/iovs.17-22213.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Corneal basement membrane has topographical features that provide biophysical cues to direct cell adherence, migration, and proliferation. In this study, we hypothesize that varying topographic pitch created on silk films can alter epithelial cell morphology, adhesion, and the genetic expression involved in cytoskeletal dynamics-related pathways.
Silicon wafers with parallel ridge widths of 2000, 1000, and 800 nm were produced and used to pattern silk films via soft lithography. Human corneal epithelial cells were cultured onto silk. After 72 hours of incubation, images were taken to study cell morphology and alignment. Cytoskeletal structures were studied by immunofluorescent staining. RNA was collected from cultured cells to perform RNA-Seq transcriptome analysis using the Illumina Hiseq 2500 sequencing system. Differentially expressed genes were identified using DNAstar Qseq then verified using quantitative real-time PCR. These genes were used to perform pathway analyses using Ingenuity Pathways Analysis.
Primary human corneal epithelial cell alignment to the surface pattern was the greatest on 1000-nm features. Fluorescent microscopy of f-actin staining showed cell cytoskeleton alignment either in parallel (2000 nm) or perpendicular (1000 and 800 nm) to the long feature axis. Z-stack projection of vinculin staining indicated increased focal adhesion formation localized on the cellular basal surface. RNA-seq analysis revealed differentially expressed genes involved in actin organization, integrin signaling, and focal adhesion kinase signaling (−log (P)>5).
Patterned silk film substrates may serve as a scaffold and provide biophysical cues to corneal epithelial cells that change their gene expression, alter cellular adherence, morphology, and may offer a promising customizable material for use in ocular surface repair.
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