Nanotopographical control for maintaining undifferentiated human embryonic stem cell colonies in feeder free conditions

Daekyeong Bae, Sung Hwan Moon, Bo Gi Park, Soon Jung Park, Taekhee Jung, Jung Suk Kim, Kyu Back Lee, Hyung Min Chung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


Recently emerging evidence has indicated surface nanotopography as an important physical parameter in the stem cell niche for regulating cell fate and behaviors for various types of stem cells. In this study, a substrate featuring arrays of increasing nanopillar diameter was devised to investigate the effects of varying surface nanotopography on the maintenance of undifferentiated human embryonic stem cells (hESC) colonies in the absence of feeder cells. Single hESCs cultured across gradient nanopattern (G-Np) substrate were generally organized into compact colonies, and expressed higher levels of undifferentiated markers compared to those cultured on the unstructured control substrate. In particular, hESC demonstrates a propensity to organize into more compact colonies expressing higher levels of undifferentiated markers towards a smaller nanopillar diameter range (D=120-170nm). Cell-nanotopography interactions modulated the formation of focal adhesions and cytoskeleton reorganization to restrict colony spreading, which reinforced E-cadherin mediated cell-cell adhesions in hESC colonies. Maintaining compact hESC colony integrity revealed to be indispensable for hESC undifferentiated state as the loss of cell-cell adhesions within spreading hESC on the control substrate exhibited morphological and gene expression signatures of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition-like processes. Findings in this study demonstrated a feasible approach to screen the optimal nanotopographical cues for maintaining undifferentiated hESC colonies in feeder free conditions, which provides a platform for further investigations into developing hESC feeder free culture systems for the purpose of regenerative medicine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)916-928
Number of pages13
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jan

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Industrial Strategic Technology Development Program, (Project No. 10041913) funded by the Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy (MI, Republic of Korea) , and by the Bio & Medical Technology Development Program of the National Research Foundation (NRF), which is funded by the Korean Government (MEST) (no. 2012-0006107 ). In addition, this research was supported by the Seoul R&BD Program (10920) and Korea Science and Engineering Foundation through the Pioneer Converging Technology Program (no. M107116001-08 M1116-00110).


  • Epithelial-mesenchymal transition
  • Focal adhesions
  • Gradient nanopattern
  • Human embryonic stem cells
  • Nanotopography
  • Stem cell niche

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Biomaterials
  • Mechanics of Materials


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