Tumor cell haptotaxis on covalently immobilized linear and exponential gradients of a cell adhesion peptide

Brian K. Brandley, Ronald L. Schnaar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


The movement of cells up an adhesive substratum gradient has been proposed as a mechanism for directing cell migration during development and metastasis. Critical evaluation of this hypothesis (haptotaxis) benefits from the use of quantifiable, stable substratum gradients of biologically relevant adhesion molecules. We report covalent derivatization of polyacrylamide surfaces with quantifiable gradients of a nonapeptide containing the adhesive Arg-Gly-Asp sequence. Cell migration was studied by seeding derivatized surfaces evenly with B16F10 murine melanoma cells. Within 8 hr, cells on gradients redistributed markedly; higher cell densities were found at gel positions having higher immobilized peptide densities. In contrast, cells seeded on control gels with uniform concentrations of adhesive peptide did not redistribute. Redistribution occurred on gradients in both serum-free and serum-containing media. Experiments with uniform density peptide-derivatized gels demonstrated that redistribution on gradients was not due to preferential initial cell attachment or preferential growth on the higher density of immobilized peptide, but must have been due to cell translocation. Cells on exponential gradients of immobilized peptide migrated to a position on the gel surface corresponding to the highest immobilized peptide density, while cells on linear gradients of the same peptide migrated to a position of intermediate peptide density. These data suggest that the B16F10 cells respond to proportional changes in immobilized peptide density rather than to absolute changes, implying a sensing mechanism which utilizes adaptation. These results demonstrate that (1) a gradient of a small adhesive peptide is sufficient to generate redistribution of cell populations and (2) controlled quantifiable substratum gradients can be produced and used to probe the underlying cellular mechanisms of this behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)74-86
Number of pages13
JournalDevelopmental biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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