ARTICLE: Adhesive ligand tether length affects the size and length of focal adhesions and influences cell spreading and attachment

Our latest article, published in Scientific Reports. Read it here.

In this paper we have demonstrated how the behaviour of cells can be controlled by carefully altering the length the linkers that attaches them to the surface which they are plated on. The response of cells to physical changes in their surroundings, notably stiffness changes, is well-documented, and important to a wide range of fields from cancer biology to tissue engineering. Up until now, taking advantage of this cellular response has required the use of complex gels to mimic wide ranges of stiffness. Our technique, by contrast, provides a simple alternative that involves coating the surface you wish to use with specific length of attachment linker that tricks the cell into thinking it is on a softer surface. The potential uses of this technique range from practical uses to mechanistic insights: in tissue engineering this process could be used to change the properties of the scaffold into which cells are seeded, directing their fate in the desired manner; in cancer biology, the precise control that the technique gives us over the cell’s environment allows for detailed investigations into what drives metastasis.