Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) in the extracellular matrix (ECM) have multiple functions in tissues including providing support, mediating cell division and differentiation, and taking part in important interactions with proteins, e.g. growth factors. Studying GAG related interactions is inherently difficult and requires suitable interaction platforms. We show two strategies to covalently couple the GAG chondroitin sulfate (CS) to supported lipid bilayers (SLBs), either by (a) activating carboxy-functionalized phospholipids in the lipid bilayer, followed by the addition of hydrazide-functionalized CS, or by (b) activating naturally occurring carboxyl groups on CS prior to addition to an amino-functionalized SLB. Bilayer formation and subsequent immobilization was followed in real-time using the Quartz Crystal Microbalance with Dissipation monitoring, a technique that provides unique information when studying highly hydrated molecular films. The two strategies yielded thin CS films (in the nanometer range) with similar viscoelastic properties. Fluidity of the lipid bilayer was retained when CS was coupled. The application of the CS interaction platform was exemplified for type I collagen and the bone inducing growth factor bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2). The addition of collagen to immoblized CS resulted in soft layers whereas layers formed by addition of BMP-2 were denser, independent on the immobilization strategy used.
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