Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Neuroeng., 18 June 2009 |

Design and adsorption of modular engineered proteins to prepare customized, neuron-compatible coatings

Department of Chemical Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA
Neural prosthetic implants are currently being developed for the treatment and study of both peripheral and central nervous system disorders. Effective integration of these devices upon implantation is a critical hurdle to achieving function. As a result, much attention has been directed towards the development of biocompatible coatings that prolong their in vivo lifespan. In this work, we present a novel approach to fabricate such coatings, which specifically involves the use of surface-adsorbed, nanoscale-designed protein polymers to prepare reproducible, customized surfaces. A nanoscale modular design strategy was employed to synthesize six engineered, recombinant proteins intended to mimic aspects of the extracellular matrix proteins fibronectin, laminin, and elastin as well as the cell–cell adhesive protein neural cell adhesion molecule. Physical adsorption isotherms were experimentally determined for these engineered proteins, allowing for direct calculation of the available ligand density present on coated surfaces. As confirmation that ligand density in these engineered systems impacts neuronal cell behavior, we demonstrate that increasing the density of fibronectin-derived RGD ligands on coated surfaces while maintaining uniform protein surface coverage results in enhanced neurite extension of PC-12 cells. Therefore, this engineered protein adsorption approach allows for the facile preparation of tunable, quantifiable, and reproducible surfaces for in vitro studies of cell–ligand interactions and for potential application as coatings on neural implants.
biocompatible, protein, adsorption, coatings, implants, neural, elastin
Straley KS and Heilshorn SC (2009). Design and adsorption of modular engineered proteins to prepare customized, neuron-compatible coatings. Front. Neuroeng. 2:9. doi:10.3389/neuro.16.009.2009
14 February 2009;
 Paper pending published:
09 March 2009;
01 June 2009;
 Published online:
18 June 2009.

Edited by:

Fabrizio Gelain, A.O.Niguarda Ca'Grande; University of Milano- Bicocca,Italy

Reviewed by:

Larry D. Unsworth, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada
Carlos E. Semino, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA
Ulrich Egert, University of Freiburg, Germany
© 2009 Straley and Heilshorn. This is an open-access article subject to an exclusive license agreement between the authors and the Frontiers Research Foundation, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original authors and source are credited.
Sarah C. Heilshorn, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Stanford University, 476 Lomita Mall, McCullough Building, Room 246, Stanford, CA, 94305-4045, USA. e-mail: