Growth cone response to ephrin gradients produced by microfluidic networks

Lang, Susanne; Von Philipsborn, Anne C.; Bernard, André; Bonhoeffer, Friedrich; Bastmeyer, Martin
February 2008
Analytical & Bioanalytical Chemistry;Feb2008, Vol. 390 Issue 3, p809
Academic Journal
A microfluidic network (μFN) etched into a silicon wafer was used to deliver protein solutions containing different concentrations of the axonal guidance molecule ephrinA5 onto a silicone stamp. In a subsequent microcontact printing (μCP) step, the protein was transferred onto a polystyrene culture dish. In this way, stepwise substrate-bound concentration gradients of ephrinA5 were fabricated spanning a total distance of 320 μm. We tested the response of chick retinal ganglion cell (RGC) axons, which are guided in vivo by ephrin gradients, to these in vitro gradients. Temporal, but not nasal axons stop at a distinct zone in the gradient, which is covered with a certain surface density of substrate-bound ephrinA5. Within the temporal RGC population, all axons respond uniformly to the gradients tested. The position of the stop zone depends on the slope of the gradient with axons growing further into the gradient in shallow gradients than in steep gradients. However, axons stop at lower ephrinA5 concentrations in shallow gradients than in steep gradients, indicating that the growth cone can adjust its sensitivity during the detection of a concentration gradient of ephrinA5.


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