Cancer cell migration on straight, wavy, loop and grid microfibre patterns

Duo Zhang, Yaqi Sheng, Nicholas Piano, Theresa Jakuszeit, Edward Cozens, Lingqing Dong, Alexander K Buell, Andreas Pollet, Iek Man Lei, Wenyu Wang, Eugene Terentjev, Yan Yan Shery Huang (Corresponding author)

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Cell migration plays an important role in physiological and pathological processes where the fibrillar morphology of extracellular matrices (ECM) could regulate the migration dynamics. To mimic the morphological characteristics of fibrillar matrix structures, low-voltage continuous electrospinning was adapted to construct straight, wavy, looped and gridded fibre patterns made of polystyrene (of fibre diameter ca. 3 μm). Cells were free to explore their different shapes in response to the directly-adhered fibre, as well as to the neighbouring patterns. For all the patterns studied, analysing cellular migration dynamics of MDA-MB-231 (a highly migratory breast cancer cell line) demonstrated two interesting findings: first, although cells dynamically adjust their shapes and migration trajectories in response to different fibrillar environments, their average step speed is minimally affected by the fibre global pattern; secondly, a switch in behaviour was observed when the pattern features approach the upper limit of the cell body's minor axis, reflecting that cells' ability to divert from an existing fibre track is limited by the size along the cell body's minor axis. It is therefore concluded that the upper limit of cell body's minor axis might act as a guide for the design of microfibre patterns for different purposes of cell migration.

Original languageEnglish
Article number024102
Number of pages12
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022


  • breast cancer
  • cell migration
  • extracellular matrix
  • pattern
  • topography


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