Protein Ligand Nanopattern Size Selects for Cellular Adhesion via Hemidesmosomes over Focal Adhesions

Sadegh Ghorbani, Ali Shahrokhtash, Julien E Gautrot, Duncan S Sutherland

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Hemidesmosomes (HDs) are multiprotein complexes that firmly anchor epidermal cells to the basement membrane of skin through the interconnection of the cytoplasmic intermediate filaments with extracellular laminin 332 (Ln332). Considerably less attention has been paid to HDs compared to focal complexes/focal adhesions (FC/FAs) in mechanistic single-cell structures due to the lack of suitable in vitro model systems. Here nanopatterns of Ln332 (100-1000 nm) are created to direct and study the formation of HD in adherent HaCaT cells. It is observed that HaCaT cells at Ln 332 nanopatterns adhere via hemidesmosomes, in stark contrast to cells at homogeneous Ln332 surfaces that adhere via FC/FAs. Clustering of α6 integrin is observed at nanopatterned Ln332 of 300 nm patches and larger. Cells at 500 nm diameter patterns show strong colocalization of α6 integrin with ColXVII or pan-cytokeratin compared to 300 nm/1000 nm indicating a threshold for HD initiation >100 nm but a pattern size selection for maturation of HDs. It is demonstrated that the pattern of Ln332 can determine the cellular selection of adhesion types with a size-dependent initiation and maturation of HDs. The protein nanopatterning approach that is presented provides a new in vitro route to study the role of HDs in cell signaling and function.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2200152
JournalSmall Methods
Pages (from-to)e2200152
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • focal adhesions
  • hemidesmosomes
  • laminin 332
  • protein patterning


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