Alternative SiO2 Surface Direct MDCK Epithelial Behavior

The mechanical interactions of cells are mediated through adhesive interactions. In this study, we examined the growth, cellular behavior, and adhesion of MDCK epithelial cells on three different SiO2 substrates: amorphous glass coverslips and the silicon oxide layers that grow on ⟨111⟩ and ⟨100⟩ wafers. While compositionally all three substrates are almost similar, differences in surface energy result in dramatic differences in epithelial cell morphology, cell–cell adhesion, cell–substrate adhesion, actin organization, and extracellular matrix (ECM) protein expression. We also observe striking differences in ECM protein binding to the various substrates due to the hydrogen bond interactions. Our results demonstrate that MDCK cells have a robust response to differences in substrates that is not obviated by nanotopography or surface composition and that a cell’s response may manifest through subtle differences in surface energies of the materials. This work strongly suggests that other properties of a material other than composition and topology should be considered when interpreting and controlling interactions of cells with a substrate, whether it is synthetic or natural.