Tailored integrin-extracellular matrix interactions to direct human mesenchymal stem cell differentiation

Stem Cells Dev. 2012 Sep 1;21(13):2442-56. doi: 10.1089/scd.2011.0615. Epub 2012 May 31.


Integrins provide the primary link between mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and their surrounding extracellular matrix (ECM), with different integrin pairs having specificity for different ECM molecules or peptide sequences contained within them. It is widely acknowledged that the type of ECM present can influence MSC differentiation; however, it is yet to be determined how specific integrin-ECM interactions may alter this or how they change during differentiation. We determined that human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) express a broad range of integrins in their undifferentiated state and show a dramatic, but transient, increase in the level of α5 integrin on day 7 of osteogenesis and an increase in α6 integrin expression throughout adipogenesis. We used a nonfouling polystyrene-block-poly(ethylene oxide)-copolymer (PS-PEO) surface to present short peptides with defined integrin-binding capabilities (RGD, IKVAV, YIGSR, and RETTAWA) to hMSCs and investigate the effects of such specific integrin-ECM contacts on differentiation. hMSCs cultured on these peptides displayed different morphologies and had varying abilities to differentiate along the osteogenic and adipogenic lineages. The peptide sequences most conducive to differentiation (IKVAV for osteogenesis and RETTAWA and IKVAV for adipogenesis) were not necessarily those that were bound by those integrin subunits seen to increase during differentiation. Additionally, we also determined that presentation of RGD, which is bound by multiple integrins, was required to support long-term viability of hMSCs. Overall we confirm that integrin-ECM contacts change throughout hMSC differentiation and show that surfaces presenting defined peptide sequences can be used to target specific integrins and ultimately influence hMSC differentiation. This platform also provides information for the development of biomaterials capable of directing hMSC differentiation for use in tissue engineering therapies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Bone Marrow / metabolism
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Cell Shape
  • Cell Survival
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism*
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique / methods
  • Humans
  • Integrin alpha5 / metabolism*
  • Integrin beta Chains / metabolism
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteogenesis
  • Peptides / metabolism
  • Polystyrenes / metabolism
  • Young Adult


  • Integrin alpha5
  • Integrin beta Chains
  • Peptides
  • Polystyrenes