Stripe assay to examine axonal guidance and cell migration

Nat Protoc. 2007;2(5):1216-24. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2007.157.


Stripe assays have been widely employed as in vitro test systems to study the responses of growing axons, as well as migrating cells, to established or novel guidance molecules. We provide detailed protocols for both the original and the modified version of this assay, as they allow the analysis of the 'guidance properties' of active components present in crude membrane fractions or as purified molecules. Silicon matrices are used to produce striped patterns of active molecules on a surface (referred to as 'carpet'), followed by culturing of neurons, or any other cell type, on these carpets. After 1-2 days in culture, striped outgrowth of extending neurites--indicative of guided migration of cell processes--can be observed. We also discuss potential other applications (e.g., in neuronal regeneration and development) and modifications of the assay. The preparation of 10-12 carpets takes approximately 4-5 h.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology*
  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods*
  • Cell Movement / physiology*
  • Chick Embryo
  • Cues*
  • Ephrin-A5 / metabolism
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / cytology*
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / metabolism


  • Ephrin-A5