Rough surface topography enhances the activation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling in mesenchymal cells

J Biomed Mater Res A. 2010 Dec 1;95(3):682-90. doi: 10.1002/jbm.a.32887.


It is known that the roughness of titanium surfaces affects cell proliferation and differentiation. However, the mechanisms mediating the cellular responses to surface topography are only partially understood. The present study investigated whether Wnt canonical signaling, an important pathway in determining cell fate, is modulated by surface roughness. This study analyzed the behavior of the murine C2C12 mesenchymal cell line on polished or acid-etched, sand-blasted (SLA) commercially pure titanium. When we transfected cells with Wnt3a or wild-type β-catenin and a reporter construct, we found that stimulation of Wnt canonical signaling was enhanced in cells on SLA surfaces. Moreover, more β-catenin translocated to the nucleus in cells on SLA surfaces after stimulation with Wnt3a as evidenced by immunofluorescence. However, when cells were transfected with constitutively active S33Y β-catenin mutant, no difference was observed between the groups. Higher levels of transcripts of Wnt target genes were detected in C2C12 cells cultured on SLA surfaces following transfection with Wnt3a, but the expression of a gene regulating β-catenin degradation, Axin 2, was reduced on SLA surfaces. Inhibition of β-catenin mediated transcription by dnTCF in murine osteoblastic MC3T3 cells, reversed the effects of topography on cell differentiation. Taken together, these results show that surface roughness modulates the responsiveness of mesenchymal cells to Wnt3a, that this requires the control of β-catenin degradation, and that the control of β-catenin signaling by surface topography is accountable for at least part of the effects of surface on cell differentiation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axin Protein
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cell Line
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / genetics
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Osteocalcin / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Surface Properties
  • Titanium / chemistry
  • Titanium / metabolism
  • Wnt Proteins / genetics
  • Wnt Proteins / metabolism*
  • beta Catenin / genetics
  • beta Catenin / metabolism*


  • Axin Protein
  • Axin2 protein, mouse
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Wnt Proteins
  • beta Catenin
  • Osteocalcin
  • Titanium