In biological systems, form and function are inherently correlated. Despite this strong interdependence, the biological effect of curvature has been largely overlooked or underestimated, and consequently it has rarely been considered in the design of new cell-material interfaces. This review summarizes current understanding of the interplay between the curvature of a cell substrate and the related morphological and functional cellular response. In this context, we also discuss what is currently known about how, in the process of such a response, cells recognize curvature and accordingly reshape their membrane. Beyond this, we highlight state-of-the-art microtechnologies for engineering curved biomaterials at cell-scale, and describe aspects that impair or improve readouts of the pure effect of curvature on cells.
Keywords: (I-)BAR domain protein; cell membrane; cell polarity; curvature; in vitro models; microtechnology.
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