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A Programmable Toolkit to Dynamically Signal Cells Using Peptide Strand Displacement

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posted on 03.05.2021, 13:04 authored by Kyle D. Riker, Margaret L. Daly, Micah J. Papanikolas, Tengyue Jian, Stephen J. Klawa, Jacqueline (Yalin) S. Shin (Sahin), Dingyuan Liu, Anamika Singh, A. Griffin Miller, Ronit Freeman
The native extracellular matrix communicates and interacts with cells by dynamically displaying signals to control their behavior. Mimicking this dynamic environment in vitro is essential in order to unravel how cell–matrix interactions guide cell fate. Here, we present a synthetic platform for the temporal display of cell-adhesive signals using coiled-coil peptides. By designing an integrin-engaging coiled-coil pair to have a toehold (unpaired domain), we were able to use a peptide strand displacement reaction to remove the cell cue from the surface. This allowed us to test how the user-defined display of RGDS ligands at variable duration and periodicity of ligand exposure influence cell spreading degree and kinetics. Transient display of αVβ3-selective ligands instructed fibroblast cells to reversibly spread and contract in response to changes in ligand exposure over multiple cycles, exhibiting a universal kinetic response. Also, cells that were triggered to spread and contract repeatedly exhibited greater enrichment of integrins in focal adhesions versus cells cultured on persistent RGDS-displaying surfaces. This dynamic platform will allow us to uncover the molecular code by which cells sense and respond to changes in their environment and will provide insights into ways to program cellular behavior.