Fibronectin fibrillogenesis is the physiological process by which cells elaborate a fibrous FN matrix. Poly(ethyl acrylate), PEA, has been described to induce a similar process upon simple adsorption of fibronectin (FN) from a protein solution-in the absence of cells-leading to the so-called material-driven fibronectin fibrillogenesis. Poly(methyl acrylate), PMA, is a polymer with very similar chemistry to PEA, on which FN is adsorbed, keeping the globular conformation of the protein in solution. We have used radical polymerization to synthesize copolymers with controlled EA/MA ratio, seeking to modulate the degree of FN fibrillogenesis. The physicochemical properties of the system were studied using dynamic-mechanical analysis, differential scanning calorimetry, and water contact angle. Both the degree of FN fibrillogenesis and the availability of the integrin binding region of FN directly depend on the percentage of EA in the copolymer, whereas the same total amount of FN was adsorbed regardless the EA/MA ratio. Cell morphology adhesion and differentiation of murine C2C12 were shown to depend on the degree of FN fibrillogenesis previously attained on the material surface. Myogenic differentiation was enhanced on the copolymers with higher EA content, i.e. more interconnected FN fibrils.
Keywords: bioactive substrates; biointerface; cell adhesion; cell differentiation; fibrillogenesis; fibronectin.