Cooperativity in adhesion cluster formation during initial cell adhesion

Christine Selhuber-Unkel, Mónica López-García, Horst Kessler, Joachim P. Spatz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

111 Scopus citations


We have studied the initial phase of cell adhesion as a function of the lateral organization of individual integrin molecules with single-cell force microscopy. Nanostructures, consisting of hexagonally ordered gold dots, were prepared with diblock-copolymer micelle lithography and functionalized with arginine- glycine-aspartate peptides, thus defining integrin position with nanometer resolution. Adhesion strength was characterized with an atomic force microscope and both cell detachment forces and work of detachment showed a reinforcement of adhesion if the distance between integrin molecules was <70 nm. This reinforcement had already occurred at cell-substrate contact times <5 min. We believe our results show quantitatively the relevance of the distance between adjacent integrin binding sites rather than their density. Furthermore, we propose a model describing the cooperative stabilization of early integrin clusters as a function of receptor patterning at the nanoscale.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5424-5431
Number of pages8
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2008


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