A decisive step in cell-biomaterial interaction is represented by the adsorption of proteins at the interface, whose fine control may be useful to trigger proper cell response. To this purpose, we can selectively control protein adsorption on biomaterials by means of aptamers. Aptamers selected to recognize fibronectin dramatically enhance chitosan ability to promote cell proliferation and adhesion, but the underlying biological mechanism remains unknown. We supposed that aptamers contributed to ameliorate the adsorption of fibronectin in an advantageous geometrical conformation for cells, thus regulating their morphology by the proper activation of the integrin-mediated pathway. We investigated this possibility by culturing epithelial cells on chitosan enriched with increasing doses of aptamers in the presence or in the absence of cytoskeleton pharmacological inhibitors. Our results showed that aptamers control cell morphology in a dose dependent manner (p < 0.0001). Simultaneously, when the inhibition of actin polymerization was induced, the control of cell morphology was attenuated (p < 0.0001), while no differences were detected when cells contractility was challenged (p > 0.05). Altogether, our data provide evidence that aptamers contribute to control fibronectin adsorption on biomaterials by preserving its conformation and thus function. Furthermore, our work provides a new insight into a new way to accurately tailor material surface bioactivity.
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