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Tailoring the biofunctionality of collagen biomaterials via tropoelastin incorporation and EDC-crosslinking.

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Bax, Daniel V 
Weiss, Anthony S 
Farndale, Richard W 
Best, Serena M 


Recreating the cell niche of virtually all tissues requires composite materials fabricated from multiple extracellular matrix (ECM) macromolecules. Due to their wide tissue distribution, physical attributes and purity, collagen, and more recently, tropoelastin, represent two appealing ECM components for biomaterials development. Here we blend tropoelastin and collagen, harnessing the cell-modulatory properties of each biomolecule. Tropoelastin was stably co-blended into collagen biomaterials and was retained after EDC-crosslinking. We found that human dermal fibroblasts (HDF), rat glial cells (Rugli) and HT1080 fibrosarcoma cells ligate to tropoelastin via EDTA-sensitive and EDTA-insensitive receptors or do not ligate with tropoelastin, respectively. These differing elastin-binding properties allowed us to probe the cellular response to the tropoelastin-collagen composites assigning specific bioactivity to the collagen and tropoelastin component of the composite material. Tropoelastin addition to collagen increased total Rugli cell adhesion, spreading and proliferation. This persisted with EDC-crosslinking of the tropoelastin-collagen composite. Tropoelastin addition did not affect total HDF and HT1080 cell adhesion; however, it increased the contribution of cation-independent adhesion, without affecting the cell morphology or, for HT1080 cells, proliferation. Instead, EDC-crosslinking dictated the HDF and HT1080 cellular response. These data show that a tropoelastin component dominates the response of cells that possess non-integrin based tropoelastin receptors. EDC modification of the collagen component directs cell function when non-integrin tropoelastin receptors are not crucial for cell activity. Using this approach, we have assigned the biological contribution of each component of tropoelastin-collagen composites, allowing informed biomaterial design for directed cell function via more physiologically relevant mechanisms. STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE: Biomaterials fabricated from multiple extracellular matrix (ECM) macromolecules are required to fully recreate the native tissue niche where each ECM macromolecule engages with a specific repertoire of cell-surface receptors. Here we investigate combining tropoelastin with collagen as they interact with cells via different receptors. We identified specific cell lines, which associate with tropoelastin via distinct classes of cell-surface receptor. These showed that tropoelastin, when combined with collagen, altered the cell behaviour in a receptor-usage dependent manner. Integrin-mediated tropoelastin interactions influenced cell proliferation and non-integrin receptors influenced cell spreading and proliferation. These data shed light on the interplay between biomaterial macromolecular composition, cell surface receptors and cell behaviour, advancing bespoke materials design and providing functionality to specific cell populations.



Cellular response, Collagen, Tropoelastin, Animals, Biocompatible Materials, Cell Adhesion, Collagen, Elastin, Rats, Tropoelastin

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Acta Biomater

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Elsevier BV
European Research Council (320598)
European Commission (624904)
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/N019938/1)
1. EPSRC fellowship EP/N019938/1 2. ERC Advanced Grant 320598 3D-E 3. 3DBioNet 4. Peoples Programme of the EU 7th Framework Programme (RAE no: PIIF-GA-2013-624904).
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