Cell patterning via linker-free protein functionalization of an organic conducting polymer (polypyrrole) electrode
The interaction of proteins and cells with polymers is critical to their use in scientific and medical applications. In this study, plasma immersion ion implantation (PIII) was used to modify the surface of the conducting polymer, polypyrrole, which possesses electrical properties. PIII treatment enabled persistent, covalent binding of the cell adhesive protein, tropoelastin, without employing chemical linking molecules. In contrast tropoelastin was readily eluted from the untreated surface. Through this differential persistence of binding, surface bound tropoelastin supported cell adhesion and spreading on the PIII treated but not the untreated polypyrrole surface. The application of a steel shadow mask during PIII treatment allowed for spatial definition of tropoelastin exclusively to PIII treated regions. The general applicability of this approach to other extracellular matrix proteins was illustrated using collagen I, which displayed similar results to tropoelastin but required extended washing conditions. This approach allowed fine patterning of cell adhesion and spreading to tropoelastin and collagen, specifically on PIII treated polypyrrole regions. We therefore present a methodology to alter the functionality of polypyrrole surfaces, generating surfaces that can spatially control cellular interactions through protein functionalization with the potential for electrical stimulation.