Cellular contact guidance through dynamic sensing of nanotopography

Meghan K. Driscoll, Xiaoyu Sun, Can Guven, John T. Fourkas, Wolfgang Losert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

58 Scopus citations


We investigate the effects of surface nanotopography on the migration and cell shape dynamics of the amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum. Multiple prior studies have implicated the patterning of focal adhesions in contact guidance. However, we observe significant contact guidance of Dictyostelium along surfaces with nanoscale ridges or grooves, even though this organism lacks integrin-based adhesions. Cells that move parallel to nanoridges are faster, more protrusive at their fronts, and more elongated than are cells that move perpendicular to nanoridges. Quantitative studies show that nanoridges spaced 1.5 μm apart exhibit the greatest contact guidance efficiency. Because Dictyostelium cells exhibit oscillatory shape dynamics, we model contact guidance as a process in which stochastic cellular harmonic oscillators couple to the periodicity of the nanoridges. In support of this connection, we find that nanoridges nucleate actin polymerization waves of nanoscale width that propagate parallel to the nanoridges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3546-3555
Number of pages10
JournalACS Nano
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 22 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Dictyostelium discoideum
  • cellular migration
  • cellular shape

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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