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Differential Collective- and Single-Cell Behaviors on Silicon Micropillar Arrays.


Three-dimensional vertically aligned nano- and micropillars have emerged as promising tools for a variety of biological applications. Despite their increasing usage, the interaction mechanisms of cells with these rigid structures and their effect on single- and collective-cell behaviors are not well understood for different cell types. In the present study, we examine the response of glioma cells to micropillar arrays using a new microfabricated platform consisting of rigid silicon micropillar arrays of various shapes, sizes, and configurations fabricated on a single platform. We compare collective- and single-cell behaviors at micropillar array interfaces and show that glial cells under identical chemical conditions form distinct arrangements on arrays of different shapes and sizes. Tumor-like aggregation and branching of glial cells only occur on arrays with feature diameters greater than 2 μm, and distinct transitions are observed at interfaces between various arrays on the platform. Additionally, despite the same side-to-side spacing and gaps between micropillars, single glial cells interact with the flat silicon surface in the gap between small pillars but sit on top of larger micropillars. Furthermore, micropillars induced local changes in stress fibers and actin-rich filopodia protrusions as the cells conformed to the shape of spatial cues formed by these micropillars.

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