Staff member

Anna Lagunas Targarona

+34 934 037 178
Staff member publications

Garcia, Luna, Palma-Florez, Sujey, Espinosa, Victor, Soleimani Rokni, Fatemeh, Lagunas, Anna, Mir, Mònica, García-Celma, María José, Samitier, Josep, Rodríguez-Abreu, Carlos, Grijalvo, Santiago, (2023). Ferulic acid-loaded polymeric nanoparticles prepared from nano-emulsion templates facilitate internalisation across the blood?brain barrier in model membranes Nanoscale 15, 7929-7944

Ferulic acid-loaded PLGA NPs were synthesised via low-energy emulsification methods utilising nano-emulsion templating including permeabilisation efficiency assessed using an in vitro organ-on-a-chip system that simulates the blood-brain barrier.

JTD Keywords: alzheimers-disease, curcumin, energy, nanocarriers, nanoemulsions, plga nanoparticles, polyreactions, release, transport, Drug-delivery-systems

Palma-Florez S, López-Canosa A, Moralez-Zavala F, Castaño O, Kogan MJ, Samitier J, Lagunas A, Mir M, (2023). BBB-on-a-chip with integrated micro-TEER for permeability evaluation of multi-functionalized gold nanorods against Alzheimer's disease Journal Of Nanobiotechnology 21, 115

The lack of predictive models that mimic the blood-brain barrier (BBB) hinders the development of effective drugs for neurodegenerative diseases. Animal models behave differently from humans, are expensive and have ethical constraints. Organ-on-a-chip (OoC) platforms offer several advantages to resembling physiological and pathological conditions in a versatile, reproducible, and animal-free manner. In addition, OoC give us the possibility to incorporate sensors to determine cell culture features such as trans-endothelial electrical resistance (TEER). Here, we developed a BBB-on-a-chip (BBB-oC) platform with a TEER measurement system in close distance to the barrier used for the first time for the evaluation of the permeability performance of targeted gold nanorods for theranostics of Alzheimer's disease. GNR-PEG-Ang2/D1 is a therapeutic nanosystem previously developed by us consisting of gold nanorods (GNR) functionalized with polyethylene glycol (PEG), angiopep-2 peptide (Ang2) to overcome the BBB and the D1 peptide as beta amyloid fibrillation inhibitor, finally obtaining GNR-PEG-Ang2/D1 which showed to be useful for disaggregation of the amyloid in in vitro and in vivo models. In this work, we evaluated its cytotoxicity, permeability, and some indications of its impact on the brain endothelium by employing an animal-free device based on neurovascular human cells.In this work, we fabricated a BBB-oC with human astrocytes, pericytes and endothelial cells and a TEER measuring system (TEER-BBB-oC) integrated at a micrometric distance of the endothelial barrier. The characterization displayed a neurovascular network and the expression of tight junctions in the endothelium. We produced GNR-PEG-Ang2/D1 and determined its non-cytotoxic range (0.05-0.4 nM) for plated cells included in the BBB-oC and confirmed its harmless effect at the highest concentration (0.4 nM) in the microfluidic device. The permeability assays revealed that GNR-PEG-Ang2/D1 cross the BBB and this entry is facilitated by Ang2 peptide. Parallel to the permeability analysis of GNR-PEG-Ang2/D1, an interesting behavior of the TJs expression was observed after its administration probably related to the ligands on the nanoparticle surface.BBB-oC with a novel TEER integrated setup which allow a correct read-out and cell imaging monitoring was proven as a functional and throughput platform to evaluate the brain permeability performance of nanotherapeutics in a physiological environment with human cells, putting forward a viable alternative to animal experimentation.© 2023. The Author(s).

JTD Keywords: alzheimer disease (ad), cell-culture, cytotoxicity, endothelial-cells, gold nanoparticles, microfluidic platform, model, organ-on-a-chip (ooc), peptide, tight junction, trans-endothelial electrical resistance (teer), transport, Alzheimer disease (ad), Blood-brain barrier (bbb), Blood-brain-barrier, Blood–brain barrier (bbb), Gold nanoparticles, Organ-on-a-chip (ooc), Trans-endothelial electrical resistance (teer)

Lagunas, Anna, Belloir, Christine, Briand, Loïc, Gorostiza, Pau, Samitier, Josep, (2022). Determination of the nanoscale electrical properties of olfactory receptor hOR1A1 and their dependence on ligand binding: Towards the development of capacitance-operated odorant biosensors Biosensors & Bioelectronics 218, 114755

The transduction of odorant binding into cellular signaling by olfactory receptors (ORs) is not understood and knowing its mechanism would enable developing new pharmacology and biohybrid electronic detectors of volatile organic compounds bearing high sensitivity and selectivity. The electrical characterization of ORs in bulk experiments is subject to microscopic models and assumptions. We have directly determined the nanoscale electrical properties of ORs immobilized in a fixed orientation, and their change upon odorant binding, using electrochemical scanning tunneling microscopy (EC-STM) in near-physiological conditions. Recordings of current versus time, distance, and electrochemical potential allows determining the OR impedance parameters and their dependence with odorant binding. Our results allow validating OR structural-electrostatic models and their functional activation processes, and anticipating a novel macroscopic biosensor based on ORs.Copyright © 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords: electrochemical scanning tunneling, electrochemical scanning tunneling microscopy (ec-stm), microscopy (ec-stm), neurons, odorant binding, olfactory receptors (ors), open-circuit voltage(voc), Olfactory receptors (ors), Open-circuit voltage (v(oc)), Transport

Casanellas I, Jiang H, David CM, Vida Y, Pérez-Inestrosa E, Samitier J, Lagunas A, (2022). Substrate adhesion determines migration during mesenchymal cell condensation in chondrogenesis Journal Of Cell Science 135, 260241

Mesenchymal condensation is a prevalent morphogenetic transition that is essential in chondrogenesis. However, the current understanding of condensation mechanisms is limited. In vivo, progenitor cells directionally migrate from the surrounding loose mesenchyme towards regions of increasing matrix adherence (the condensation centers), which is accompanied by the upregulation of fibronectin. Here, we focused on the mechanisms of cell migration during mesenchymal cell condensation and the effects of matrix adherence. Dendrimer-based nanopatterns of the cell-adhesive peptide arginine-glycine-aspartic acid (RGD), which is present in fibronectin, were used to regulate substrate adhesion. We recorded collective and single-cell migration of mesenchymal stem cells, under chondrogenic induction, using live-cell imaging. Our results show that the cell migration mode of single cells depends on substrate adhesiveness, and that cell directionality controls cell condensation and the fusion of condensates. Inhibition experiments revealed that cell-cell interactions mediated by N-cadherin (also known as CDH2) are also pivotal for directional migration of cell condensates by maintaining cell-cell cohesion, thus suggesting a fine interplay between cell-matrix and cell-cell adhesions. Our results shed light on the role of cell interactions with a fibronectin-depositing matrix during chondrogenesis in vitro, with possible applications in regenerative medicine. This article has an associated First Person interview with the first author of the paper.© 2022. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.

JTD Keywords: alpha-v-beta-3, arginine-glycine-aspartic acid, chondrogenesis, dynamics, expression, fibronectin, gastrulation, involvement, mechanisms, mesenchymal condensation, model, nanopatterned substrates, rgd, Arginine-glycine-aspartic acid, Cell migration, Chondrogenesis, Mesenchymal condensation, N-cadherin, Nanopatterned substrates, Rgd

Gomila AMJ, Pérez-Mejías G, Nin-Hill A, Guerra-Castellano A, Casas-Ferrer L, Ortiz-Tescari S, Díaz-Quintana A, Samitier J, Rovira C, De la Rosa MA, Díaz-Moreno I, Gorostiza P, Giannotti MI, Lagunas A, (2022). Phosphorylation disrupts long-distance electron transport in cytochrome c Nature Communications 13, 7100

It has been recently shown that electron transfer between mitochondrial cytochrome c and the cytochrome c1 subunit of the cytochrome bc1 can proceed at long-distance through the aqueous solution. Cytochrome c is thought to adjust its activity by changing the affinity for its partners via Tyr48 phosphorylation, but it is unknown how it impacts the nanoscopic environment, interaction forces, and long-range electron transfer. Here, we constrain the orientation and separation between cytochrome c1 and cytochrome c or the phosphomimetic Y48pCMF cytochrome c, and deploy an array of single-molecule, bulk, and computational methods to investigate the molecular mechanism of electron transfer regulation by cytochrome c phosphorylation. We demonstrate that phosphorylation impairs long-range electron transfer, shortens the long-distance charge conduit between the partners, strengthens their interaction, and departs it from equilibrium. These results unveil a nanoscopic view of the interaction between redox protein partners in electron transport chains and its mechanisms of regulation.© 2022. The Author(s).

JTD Keywords: apoptosis, binding, cardiolipin, complex, dynamics, force, respiration, structural basis, tyrosine phosphorylation, Histone chaperone activity

Casanellas I, Samitier J, Lagunas A, (2022). Recent advances in engineering nanotopographic substrates for cell studies Frontiers In Bioengineering And Biotechnology 10, 1002967

Cells sense their environment through the cell membrane receptors. Interaction with extracellular ligands induces receptor clustering at the nanoscale, assembly of the signaling complexes in the cytosol and activation of downstream signaling pathways, regulating cell response. Nanoclusters of receptors can be further organized hierarchically in the cell membrane at the meso- and micro-levels to exert different biological functions. To study and guide cell response, cell culture substrates have been engineered with features that can interact with the cells at different scales, eliciting controlled cell responses. In particular, nanoscale features of 1-100 nm in size allow direct interaction between the material and single cell receptors and their nanoclusters. Since the first "contact guidance" experiments on parallel microstructures, many other studies followed with increasing feature resolution and biological complexity. Here we present an overview of the advances in the field summarizing the biological scenario, substrate fabrication techniques and applications, highlighting the most recent developments.Copyright © 2022 Casanellas, Samitier and Lagunas.

JTD Keywords: cell response, density, differentiation, lithography, micro, nanofabrication, nanopatterning, nanopatterns, nanoscale, nanotopography, organization, photolithography, Cell response, Nanofabrication, Nanopatterning, Nanotopography, Plasma-membrane, Receptor nanoclustering

Mir, M, Palma-Florez, S, Lagunas, A, Lopez-Martinez, MJ, Samitier, J, (2022). Biosensors Integration in Blood-Brain Barrier-on-a-Chip: Emerging Platform for Monitoring Neurodegenerative Diseases Acs Sensors 7, 1237-1247

Over the most recent decades, the development of new biological platforms to study disease progression and drug efficacy has been of great interest due to the high increase in the rate of neurodegenerative diseases (NDDs). Therefore, blood-brain barrier (BBB) as an organ-on-a-chip (OoC) platform to mimic brain-barrier performance could offer a deeper understanding of NDDs as well as a very valuable tool for drug permeability testing for new treatments. A very attractive improvement of BBB-oC technology is the integration of detection systems to provide continuous monitoring of biomarkers in real time and a fully automated analysis of drug permeably, rendering more efficient platforms for commercialization. In this Perspective, an overview of the main BBB-oC configurations is introduced and a critical vision of the BBB-oC platforms integrating electronic read out systems is detailed, indicating the strengths and weaknesses of current devices, proposing the great potential for biosensors integration in BBB-oC. In this direction, we name potential biomarkers to monitor the evolution of NDDs related to the BBB and/or drug cytotoxicity using biosensor technology in BBB-oC.

JTD Keywords: biosensors, blood−brain barrier (bbb), neurodegenerative diseases (ndds), organ-on-a-chip (ooc), Bbb, Biosensors, Blood-brain barrier (bbb), Electrical-resistance, Electrochemical biosensors, Endothelial-cells, In-vitro model, Matrix metalloproteinases, Mechanisms, Neurodegenerative diseases (ndds), Organ-on-a-chip (ooc), Permeability, Stress, Transendothelial electrical resistance (teer), Transepithelial, Transepithelial/transendothelial electrical resistance (teer), Transport

Almici E, Chiappini V, López-Márquez A, Badosa C, Blázquez B, Caballero D, Montero J, Natera-de Benito D, Nascimento A, Roldán M, Lagunas A, Jiménez-Mallebrera C, Samitier J, (2022). Personalized in vitro Extracellular Matrix Models of Collagen VI-Related Muscular Dystrophies Frontiers In Bioengineering And Biotechnology 10, 851825

Collagen VI-related dystrophies (COL6-RDs) are a group of rare congenital neuromuscular dystrophies that represent a continuum of overlapping clinical phenotypes that go from the milder Bethlem myopathy (BM) to the severe Ullrich congenital muscular dystrophy, for which there is no effective treatment. Mutations in one of the three Collagen VI genes alter the incorporation of this protein into the extracellular matrix (ECM), affecting the assembly and the structural integrity of the whole fibrillar network. Clinical hallmarks of COL6-RDs are secondary to the ECM disruption and include muscle weakness, proximal joint contractures, and distal hyperlaxity. Although some traits have been identified in patients’ ECMs, a correlation between the ECM features and the clinical phenotype has not been established, mainly due to the lack of predictive and reliable models of the pathology. Herein, we engineered a new personalized pre-clinical model of COL6-RDs using cell-derived matrices (CDMs) technology to better recapitulate the complexity of the native scenario. We found that CDMs from COL6-RD patients presented alterations in ECM structure and composition, showing a significantly decreased Collagen VI secretion, especially in the more severe phenotypes, and a decrease in Fibrillin-1 inclusion. Next, we examined the Collagen VI-mediated deposition of Fibronectin in the ECM, finding a higher alignment, length, width, and straightness than in patients with COL6-RDs. Overall, these results indicate that CDMs models are promising tools to explore the alterations that arise in the composition and fibrillar architecture due to mutations in Collagen VI genes, especially in early stages of matrix organization. Ultimately, CDMs derived from COL6-RD patients may become relevant pre-clinical models, which may help identifying novel biomarkers to be employed in the clinics and to investigate novel therapeutic targets and treatments. Copyright © 2022 Almici, Chiappini, López-Márquez, Badosa, Blázquez, Caballero, Montero, Natera-de Benito, Nascimento, Roldán, Lagunas, Jiménez-Mallebrera and Samitier.

JTD Keywords: alpha-3 chain, binding, collagen vi related muscular dystrophy, decellularisation, decellularized matrices, deficiency, expression, extracellular matrix, fibroblasts, fibronectin, in vitro model, patient-derived ecms, skeletal-muscle, ullrich, Cell-derived matrices, Collagen, Collagen vi related muscular dystrophy, Decellularisation, Decellularization, Extracellular matrices, Extracellular matrix, Genes, In vitro model, In-vitro, In-vitro models, Matrix, Matrix model, Muscular dystrophy, Pathology, Patient-derived ecm, Patient-derived ecms, Pre-clinical

Casanellas, I, Lagunas, A, Vida, Y, Perez-Inestrosa, E, Rodriguez-Pereira, C, Magalhaes, J, Andrades, JA, Becerra, J, Samitier, J, (2022). Nanoscale ligand density modulates gap junction intercellular communication of cell condensates during chondrogenesis Nanomedicine 17, 775-791

Aim: To unveil the influence of cell-matrix adhesions in the establishment of gap junction intercellular communication (GJIC) during cell condensation in chondrogenesis. Materials & methods: Previously developed nanopatterns of the cell adhesive ligand arginine-glycine-aspartic acid were used as cell culture substrates to control cell adhesion at the nanoscale. In vitro chondrogenesis of mesenchymal stem cells was conducted on the nanopatterns. Cohesion and GJIC were evaluated in cell condensates. Results: Mechanical stability and GJIC are enhanced by a nanopattern configuration in which 90% of the surface area presents adhesion sites separated less than 70 nm, thus providing an onset for cell signaling. Conclusion: Cell-matrix adhesions regulate GJIC of mesenchymal cell condensates during in vitro chondrogenesis from a threshold configuration at the nanoscale.

JTD Keywords: arginine-glycine-aspartic acid, arginine–glycine–aspartic acid, cell adhesion, condensation, dendrimer-based nanopatterning, gap junction intercellular communication, Actin, Adhesion, Arginine-glycine-aspartic acid, Cell adhesion, Collagen, Condensation, Connexin-43, Dendrimer-based nanopatterning, Dynamics, Extracellular-matrix, Fibronectin, Gap junction intercellular communication, Mesenchymal stem cells, Permeability, Phenotype, Vinculin

Subirada, F, Paoli, R, Sierra-Agudelo, J, Lagunas, A, Rodriguez-Trujillo, R, Samitier, J, (2022). Development of a Custom-Made 3D Printing Protocol with Commercial Resins for Manufacturing Microfluidic Devices Polymers 14,

The combination of microfluidics and photo-polymerization techniques such as stereolithography (SLA) has emerged as a new field which has a lot of potential to influence in such important areas as biological analysis, and chemical detection among others. However, the integration between them is still at an early stage of development. In this article, after analyzing the resolution of a custom SLA 3D printer with commercial resins, microfluidic devices were manufactured using three different approaches. First, printing a mold with the objective of creating a Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) replica with the microfluidic channels; secondly, open channels have been printed and then assembled with a flat cover of the same resin material. Finally, a closed microfluidic device has also been produced in a single process of printing. Important results for 3D printing with commercial resins have been achieved by only printing one layer on top of the channel. All microfluidic devices have been tested successfully for pressure-driven fluid flow.

JTD Keywords: 3d printing, additive manufacturing, microfluidics, photo-curable polymers, 3d printing, Additive manufacturing, Microfluidics, Photo-curable polymers, Stereolithography

Morgado, A, Najera, F, Lagunas, A, Samitier, J, Vida, Y, Perez-Inestrosa, E, (2021). Slightly congested amino terminal dendrimers. The synthesis of amide-based stable structures on a large scale Polymer Chemistry 12, 5168-5177

Nowadays, amino terminal dendrimers are appealing materials for biological applications due to their multivalence and the versatile conjugation of the amino groups. However, the high reactivity of these terminal groups can be decreased by steric hindrance, limiting their possible bioapplications. Herein, we report the divergent synthesis of slightly sterically hindered amino terminal polyamide dendrimers. A simple and unique AB(2) scaffold has been chosen to build the dendritic structures, where only amide bonds have been used as the connecting unit. The 1-7 relative positions of the amino groups in the AB(2) monomers avoid the steric congestion of the macromolecules, allowing the construction of robust dendrimers up to the fifth generation. The construction of the dendrimers is based on two well-established reactions, using simple and cheap reactants, with yields above 90% on a gram scale and easy purification procedures. This synthetic methodology constitutes an easy and efficient way for the preparation of stable and aqueous soluble dendrimers on a gram scale, representing a substantial improvement over the synthesis of this kind of aliphatic polyamide amino terminal dendrimer. The prepared structures were completely characterized and evaluated by size exclusion chromatography, diffusion ordered spectroscopy and atomic force microscopy to determine their size. Molecular dynamics simulations were also carried out and the values obtained were consistent with the experimentally determined values.

JTD Keywords: Density, Discovery, Pamam dendrimers, Polymers

Casanellas, Ignasi, Lagunas, Anna, Vida, Yolanda, Pérez-Inestrosa, Ezequiel, Andrades, J. A., Becerra, J., Samitier, Josep, (2020). The Janus role of adhesion in chondrogenesis International Journal of Molecular Sciences 21, (15), 5269

Tackling the first stages of the chondrogenic commitment is essential to drive chondrogenic differentiation to healthy hyaline cartilage and minimize hypertrophy. During chondrogenesis, the extracellular matrix continuously evolves, adapting to the tissue adhesive requirements at each stage. Here, we take advantage of previously developed nanopatterns, in which local surface adhesiveness can be precisely tuned, to investigate its effects on prechondrogenic condensation. Fluorescence live cell imaging, immunostaining, confocal microscopy and PCR analysis are used to follow the condensation process on the nanopatterns. Cell tracking parameters, condensate morphology, cell–cell interactions, mechanotransduction and chondrogenic commitment are evaluated in response to local surface adhesiveness. Results show that only condensates on the nanopatterns of high local surface adhesiveness are stable in culture and able to enter the chondrogenic pathway, thus highlighting the importance of controlling cell–substrate adhesion in the tissue engineering strategies for cartilage repair.

JTD Keywords: Dendrimer, Nanopatterning, RGD, Mesenchymal cell condensation, Cell–cell interactions, YAP, Chondrogenesis

Rodríguez-Pereira, Cristina, Lagunas, Anna, Casanellas, Ignasi, Vida, Yolanda, Pérez-Inestrosa, Ezequiel, Andrades, José A., Becerra, José, Samitier, Josep, Blanco, Francisco J., Magalhães, Joana, (2020). RGD-dendrimer-poly(L-lactic) acid nanopatterned substrates for the early chondrogenesis of human mesenchymal stromal cells derived from osteoarthritic and healthy donors Materials 13, (10), 2247

Aiming to address a stable chondrogenesis derived from mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) to be applied in cartilage repair strategies at the onset of osteoarthritis (OA), we analyzed the effect of arginine–glycine–aspartate (RGD) density on cell condensation that occurs during the initial phase of chondrogenesis. For this, we seeded MSC-derived from OA and healthy (H) donors in RGD-dendrimer-poly(L-lactic) acid (PLLA) nanopatterned substrates (RGD concentrations of 4 × 10−9, 10−8, 2.5 × 10−8, and 10−2 w/w), during three days and compared to a cell pellet conventional three-dimensional culture system. Molecular gene expression (collagens type-I and II–COL1A1 and COL2A1, tenascin-TNC, sex determining region Y-box9-SOX9, and gap junction protein alpha 1–GJA1) was determined as well as the cell aggregates and pellet size, collagen type-II and connexin 43 proteins synthesis. This study showed that RGD-tailored first generation dendrimer (RGD-Cys-D1) PLLA nanopatterned substrates supported the formation of pre-chondrogenic condensates from OA- and H-derived human bone marrow-MSCs with enhanced chondrogenesis regarding the cell pellet conventional system (presence of collagen type-II and connexin 43, both at the gene and protein level). A RGD-density dependent trend was observed for aggregates size, in concordance with previous studies. Moreover, the nanopatterns’ had a higher effect on OA-derived MSC morphology, leading to the formation of bigger and more compact aggregates with improved expression of early chondrogenic markers.

JTD Keywords: Cell condensation, Gap junctions, RGD-density, Chondrogenic differentiation, Osteoarthritis

Hortigüela, Verónica, Larrañaga, Enara, Lagunas, Anna, Acosta, Gerardo A., Albericio, Fernando, Andilla, Jordi, Loza-Alvarez, Pablo, Martínez, Elena, (2019). Large-area biomolecule nanopatterns on diblock copolymer surfaces for cell adhesion studies Nanomaterials 9, (4), 579

Cell membrane receptors bind to extracellular ligands, triggering intracellular signal transduction pathways that result in specific cell function. Some receptors require to be associated forming clusters for effective signaling. Increasing evidences suggest that receptor clustering is subjected to spatially controlled ligand distribution at the nanoscale. Herein we present a method to produce in an easy, straightforward process, nanopatterns of biomolecular ligands to study ligand–receptor processes involving multivalent interactions. We based our platform in self-assembled diblock copolymers composed of poly(styrene) (PS) and poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) that form PMMA nanodomains in a closed-packed hexagonal arrangement. Upon PMMA selective functionalization, biomolecular nanopatterns over large areas are produced. Nanopattern size and spacing can be controlled by the composition of the block-copolymer selected. Nanopatterns of cell adhesive peptides of different size and spacing were produced, and their impact in integrin receptor clustering and the formation of cell focal adhesions was studied. Cells on ligand nanopatterns showed an increased number of focal contacts, which were, in turn, more matured than those found in cells cultured on randomly presenting ligands. These findings suggest that our methodology is a suitable, versatile tool to study and control receptor clustering signaling and downstream cell behavior through a surface-based ligand patterning technique.


Casanellas, Ignasi, Lagunas, Anna, Vida, Yolanda, Pérez-Inestrosa, Ezequiel, Andrades, José A., Becerra, José, Samitier, Josep, (2019). Matrix nanopatterning regulates mesenchymal differentiation through focal adhesion size and distribution according to cell fate Biomimetics Biomimetic Nanotechnology for Biomedical Applications (NanoBio&Med 2018) , MDPI (Barcelona, Spain) 4, (2), 43

Extracellular matrix remodeling plays a pivotal role during mesenchyme patterning into different lineages. Tension exerted from cell membrane receptors bound to extracellular matrix ligands is transmitted by the cytoskeleton to the cell nucleus inducing gene expression. Here, we used dendrimer-based arginine–glycine–aspartic acid (RGD) uneven nanopatterns, which allow the control of local surface adhesiveness at the nanoscale, to unveil the adhesive requirements of mesenchymal tenogenic and osteogenic commitments. Cell response was found to depend on the tension resulting from cell–substrate interactions, which affects nuclear morphology and is regulated by focal adhesion size and distribution.

JTD Keywords: Arginine–glycine–aspartic acid (RGD), Nanopattern, Mesenchymal stem cells, Tenogenesis, Osteogenesis, Cell nuclei, Focal adhesions

Lagunas, A., Guerra-Castellano, A., Nin-Hill, A., Díaz-Moreno, I., De la Rosa, M. A., Samitier, J., Rovira, C., Gorostiza, P., (2018). Long distance electron transfer through the aqueous solution between redox partner proteins Nature Communications 9, (1), 5157

Despite the importance of electron transfer between redox proteins in photosynthesis and respiration, the inter-protein electron transfer rate between redox partner proteins has never been measured as a function of their separation in aqueous solution. Here, we use electrochemical tunneling spectroscopy to show that the current between two protein partners decays along more than 10 nm in the solution. Molecular dynamics simulations reveal a reduced ionic density and extended electric field in the volume confined between the proteins. The distance-decay factor and the calculated local barrier for electron transfer are regulated by the electrochemical potential applied to the proteins. Redox partners could use electrochemically gated, long distance electron transfer through the solution in order to conciliate high specificity with weak binding, thus keeping high turnover rates in the crowded environment of cells.


Hortigüela, Verónica, Larrañaga, Enara, Cutrale, Francesco, Seriola', Anna, García-Díaz, María, Lagunas, Anna, Andilla, Jordi, Loza-Alvarez, Pablo, Samitier, Josep, Ojosnegros', Samuel, Martinez, Elena, (2018). Nanopatterns of surface-bound ephrinB1 produce multivalent ligand-receptor interactions that tune EphB2 receptor clustering Nano Letters 18, (1), 629-637

Here we present a nanostructured surface able to produce multivalent interactions between surface-bound ephrinB1 ligands and membrane EphB2 receptors. We created ephrinB1 nanopatterns of regular size (<30 nm in diameter) by using self-assembled diblock copolymers. Next, we used a statistically enhanced version of the Number and Brightness technique, which can discriminate - with molecular sensitivity - the oligomeric states of diffusive species to quantitatively track the EphB2 receptor oligomerization process in real time. The results indicate that a stimulation using randomly distributed surface-bound ligands was not sufficient to fully induce receptor aggregation. Conversely, when nanopatterned onto our substrates, the ligands effectively induced a strong receptor oligomerization. This presentation of ligands improved the clustering efficiency of conventional ligand delivery systems, as it required a 9-fold lower ligand surface coverage and included faster receptor clustering kinetics compared to traditional crosslinked ligands. In conclusion, nanostructured diblock copolymers constitute a novel strategy to induce multivalent ligand-receptor interactions leading to a stronger, faster, and more efficient receptor activation, thus providing a useful strategy to precisely tune and potentiate receptor responses. The efficiency of these materials at inducing cell responses can benefit applications such as the design of new bioactive materials and drug-delivery systems.


Casanellas, Ignasi, García-Lizarribar, Andrea, Lagunas, Anna, Samitier, Josep, (2018). Producing 3D biomimetic nanomaterials for musculoskeletal system regeneration Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology 6, Article 128

The human musculoskeletal system is comprised mainly of connective tissues such as cartilage, tendon, ligaments, skeletal muscle and skeletal bone. These tissues support the structure of the body, hold and protect the organs, and are responsible of movement. Since it is subjected to continuous strain, the musculoskeletal system is prone to injury by excessive loading forces or aging, whereas currently available treatments are usually invasive and not always effective. Most of the musculoskeletal injuries require surgical intervention facing a limited post-surgery tissue regeneration, especially for widespread lesions. Therefore, many tissue engineering approaches have been developed tackling musculoskeletal tissue regeneration. Materials are designed to meet the chemical and mechanical requirements of the native tissue three-dimensional (3D) environment, thus facilitating implant integration while providing a good reabsorption rate. With biological systems operating at the nanoscale, nanoengineered materials have been developed to support and promote regeneration at the interprotein communication level. Such materials call for a great precision and architectural control in the production process fostering the development of new fabrication techniques. In this mini review, we would like to summarize the most recent advances in 3D nanoengineered biomaterials for musculoskeletal tissue regeneration, with especial emphasis on the different techniques used to produce them.

JTD Keywords: Nanofiber, 3D printing, Musculoskeletal, Regeneration, Scaffold, Tissue Engineering, Stimuli-responsive

Casanellas, Ignasi, Lagunas, Anna, Tsintzou, Iro, Vida, Yolanda, Collado, Daniel, Pérez-Inestrosa, Ezequiel, Rodríguez-Pereira, Cristina, Magalhaes, Joana, Gorostiza, Pau, Andrades, José A., Becerra, José, Samitier, Josep, (2018). Dendrimer-based uneven nanopatterns to locally control surface adhesiveness: A method to direct chondrogenic differentiation Journal of Visualized Experiments Bioengineering, (131), e56347

Cellular adhesion and differentiation is conditioned by the nanoscale disposition of the extracellular matrix (ECM) components, with local concentrations having a major effect. Here we present a method to obtain large-scale uneven nanopatterns of arginine-glycine-aspartic acid (RGD)-functionalized dendrimers that permit the nanoscale control of local RGD surface density. Nanopatterns are formed by surface adsorption of dendrimers from solutions at different initial concentrations and are characterized by water contact angle (CA), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), and scanning probe microscopy techniques such as scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). The local surface density of RGD is measured using AFM images by means of probability contour maps of minimum interparticle distances and then correlated with cell adhesion response and differentiation. The nanopatterning method presented here is a simple procedure that can be scaled up in a straightforward manner to large surface areas. It is thus fully compatible with cell culture protocols and can be applied to other ligands that exert concentration-dependent effects on cells.

JTD Keywords: Bioengineering, Dendrimer, Nanopattern, Arginine-Glycine-Aspartic Acid (RGD), Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), Cell Adhesion, Mesenchymal Stem Cells (Mscs), Chondrogenesis

Lagunas, Anna, Tsintzou, Iro, Vida, Yolanda, Collado, Daniel, Pérez-Inestrosa, Ezequiel, Pereira, Cristina Rodríguez, Magalhaes, Joana, Andrades, José A., Samitier, Josep, (2017). Tailoring RGD local surface density at the nanoscale toward adult stem cell chondrogenic commitment Nano Research , 10, (6), 1959-1971

Arginine-glycine-aspartic acid (RGD) dendrimer-based nanopatterns on poly(L-lactic acid) were used as bioactive substrates to evaluate the impact of the RGD local surface density on the chondrogenic induction of adult human mesenchymal stem cells. During chondrogenic commitment, active extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling takes place, playing an instructive role in the differentiation process. Although three-dimensional environments such as pellet or micromass cultures are commonly used for in vitro chondrogenic differentiation, these cultures are rather limited with respect to their ability to interrogate cells in cell–ECM interactions. In the present study, the nanopatterns of the tunable RGD surface density were obtained as a function of the initial dendrimer concentration. The local RGD surface density was quantified through probability contour plots for the minimum interparticle distance, constructed from the corresponding atomic force microscopy images, and correlated with the cell adhesion and differentiation response. The results revealed that the local RGD surface density at the nanoscale acts as a regulator of chondrogenic commitment, and that intermediate adhesiveness of cells to the substrates favors mesenchymal cell condensation and early chondrogenic differentiation.


Lagunas, A., Sasso, B., Tesson, N., Cantos, C., Martinez, Elena, Samitier, J., (2016). Synthesis of a polymethyl(methacrylate)-polystyrene-based diblock copolymer containing biotin for selective protein nanopatterning Polymer Chemistry 7, 212-218

Protein patterning is of interest in high-throughput screening. Due to an increase in demand for further miniaturization of protein assays, block copolymers (BCPs) that can undergo large-area phase separation into nanometer-size domains have attracted great attention as substrates for protein nanopatterning. Here we report the synthesis of a polymethyl(methacrylate)-polystyrene-based diblock copolymer which, once spin-coated, is capable of self-segregating into cylindrical polystyrene (PS) domains. In this copolymer, the PS block was modified to introduce biotin below 10% molar in order to achieve molecular recognition of streptavidin. The PMMA matrix used to introduce poly(ethylene glycol) enabled us to obtain an antifouling environment that prevents unspecific protein adsorption outside the domains. The use of the biotin-streptavidin pair in this BCP makes it suitable for nanopatterning of other biotinylated proteins of interest for the purposes of cell biology, biosensors, and tissue engineering.


Lagunas, A., Caballero, D., Samitier, J., (2016). Influence of controlled micro- and nanoengineered environments on stem cell Advanced Surfaces for Stem Cell Research (ed. Tiwari, A., Garipcan, B., Uzun, L.), Wiley (San Francisco, USA) , 85-140

The book outlines first the importance of Extra Cellular Matrix (ECM), which is a natural surface for most of cells. In the following chapters the influence of biological, chemical, mechanical, and physical properties of surfaces in micro and nano-scale on stem cell behavior are discussed including the mechanotransduction. Biomimetic and bioinspired approaches are highlighted for developing microenvironment of several tissues, and surface engineering applications are discussed in tissue engineering, regenerative medicine and different type of biomaterials in various chapters of the book. This book brings together innovative methodologies and strategies adopted in the research and development of Advanced Surfaces in Stem Cell Research. Well-known worldwide researchers deliberate subjects including: Extracellular matrix proteins for stem cell fate The superficial mechanical and physical properties of matrix microenvironment as stem cell fate regulator Effects of mechanotransduction on stem cell behavior Modulation of stem cells behavior through bioactive surfaces Influence of controlled micro and nanoengineered surfaces on stem cell fate Nanostructured polymeric surfaces for stem cells Laser surface modification techniques and stem cells applications Plasma polymer deposition: a versatile tool for stem cell research Application of bioreactor concept and modeling techniques in bone regeneration and augmentation treatments Substrates and surfaces for control of pluripotent stem cell fate and function


Lagunas, Anna, Martinez, Elena, Samitier, Josep, (2015). Surface-bound molecular gradients for the high throughput screening of cell responses Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology 3, Article 132

Chemical gradient surfaces are described as surfaces with a gradually varying composition along their length. Continuous chemical gradients have recently been proposed as alternative to discrete microarrays for the high throughput screening of the effects of ligand concentration in cells. Here we review some of the most recent examples in which gradients have been used to evaluate the effect of a varying ligand concentration in cell adhesion, morphology, growth and differentiation of cells, including some of our recent findings. They show the importance of the organization of ligands at the nanoscale, which is highlighted by abrupt changes in cell behavior at critical concentration thresholds.

JTD Keywords: Cell Adhesion, Cell Differentiation, Cell growth, Cell morphology, Molecular gradient

Galan, Teresa, Lagunas, Anna, Martinez, Elena, Samitier, Josep, (2015). Fabrication of bioactive polypyrrole microelectrodes on insulating surfaces by surface-guided biocatalytical polymerization RSC Advances 5, (82), 67082-67088

Although promising, organic microelectronics lacks standard fabrication methods comparable to photolithography in terms of resolution. Here we propose a novel and easily scalable on-surface biocatalytical procedure for the fabrication of polypyrrole microelectrodes on insulating surfaces. Arrays of polypyrrole microelectrodes were obtained by surface-guided biocatalytical polymerization, achieving up to 5 [small micro]m in resolution and conductivities up to 3 S cm-1. The mild reaction conditions provided by the biocatalytical approach permit the entrapment of bioactive compounds during polymer synthesis. This system is convenient for drug release purposes, as demonstrated by the controlled release of entrapped biotin through electrical stimulation. These results pave the way for the application of polypyrrole microelectrodes produced through biocatalysis in the development of implantable devices for remotely controlled tissue interactions.


Lagunas, A., Garcia, A., Artés, J. M., Vida, Y., Collado, D., Pérez-Inestrosa, E., Gorostiza, P., Claros, S., Andrades, J. A., Samitier, J., (2014). Large-scale dendrimer-based uneven nanopatterns for the study of local arginine-glycine-aspartic acid (RGD) density effects on cell adhesion Nano Research , 7, (3), 399-409

Cell adhesion processes are governed by the nanoscale arrangement of the extracellular matrix (ECM), being more affected by local rather than global concentrations of cell adhesive ligands. In many cell-based studies, grafting of dendrimers on surfaces has shown the benefits of the local increase in concentration provided by the dendritic configuration, although the lack of any reported surface characterization has limited any direct correlation between dendrimer disposition and cell response. In order to establish a proper correlation, some control over dendrimer surface deposition is desirable. Here, dendrimer nanopatterning has been employed to address arginine-glycine-aspartic acid (RGD) density effects on cell adhesion. Nanopatterned surfaces were fully characterized by atomic force microscopy (AFM), scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), showing that tunable distributions of cell adhesive ligands on the surface are obtained as a function of the initial dendrimer bulk concentration. Cell experiments showed a clear correlation with dendrimer surface layout: Substrates presenting regions of high local ligand density resulted in a higher percentage of adhered cells and a higher degree of maturation of focal adhesions (FAs). Therefore, dendrimer nanopatterning is presented as a suitable and controlled approach to address the effect of local ligand density on cell response. Moreover, due to the easy modification of dendrimer peripheral groups, dendrimer nanopatterning can be further extended to other ECM ligands having density effects on cells.

JTD Keywords: Arginine-glycine-aspartic acid, Atomic force microscopy, Cell adhesion, Dendrimer, Focal adhesions, Scanning tunneling microscopy

Oberhansl, S., Garcia, A., Lagunas, A., Prats-Alfonso, E., Hirtz, M., Albericio, F., Fuchs, H., Samitier, J., Martinez, Elena, (2014). Mesopattern of immobilised bone morphogenetic protein-2 created by microcontact printing and dip-pen nanolithography influence C2C12 cell fate RSC Advances 4, (100), 56809-56815

Dip-pen nanolithography and microcontact printing were used to fabricate mesopatterned substrates for cell differentiation experiments. A biotin-thiol was patterned on gold substrates and subsequently functionalised with streptavidin and biotinylated bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2). The feasibility of mesopatterned substrates containing immobilised BMP-2 was proven by obtaining similar differentiation outcomes compared to the growth factor in solution. Therefore, these substrates might be suitable for replacing conventional experiments with BMP-2 in solution.

JTD Keywords: Bone morphogenetic protein-2, C2C12 cells, Dip-pen nanolithography, Micro contact printing

Garcia, A., Hortigüela, V., Lagunas, A., Cortina, C., Montserrat, N., Samitier, J., Martinez, Elena, (2014). Protein patterning on hydrogels by direct microcontact printing: application to cardiac differentiation RSC Advances 4, (55), 29120-29123

An extended microcontact printing technique to chemically pattern hydrogels is reported. The procedure employs standard polydimethylsiloxane stamps and requires minor pre-processing of the hydrogels by freeze-drying. Micropatterned Matrigel[trade mark sign] and gelatin hydrogels induce NIH-3T3 cell alignment and elongation. Furthermore, human embryonic stem cells cultured on fibronectin-patterned hydrogels display beating foci earlier than those cultured on non-patterned substrates.


Lagunas, A., Comelles, J., Oberhansl, S., Hortigüela, V., Martínez, Elena, Samitier, J., (2013). Continuous bone morphogenetic protein-2 gradients for concentration effect studies on C2C12 osteogenic fate Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology, and Medicine 9, (5), 694-701

Cells can respond to small changes in a varying concentration of exogenous signaling molecules. Here we propose the use of continuous surface chemical gradients for the in-depth study of dose-dependent effects on cells. A continuous surface gradient of bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2) is presented. The gradient covers a narrow range of surface densities (from 1.4 to 2.3 pmol/cm2) with a shallow slope (0.9 pmol/cm3). These characteristics represent a quasi-homogeneous surface concentration at the cell scale, which is crucial for cell screening studies. Cell fate evaluation at early stages of osteogenesis in C2C12 cells, indicates the potential of continuous gradients for in vitro screening applications.


Prats-Alfonso, E., Oberhansl, S., Lagunas, A., Martínez, Elena, Samitier, J., Albericio, F., (2013). Effective and versatile strategy for the total solid-phase synthesis of alkanethiols for biological applications European Journal of Organic Chemistry , 2013, (7), 1233-1239

Biological applications increasingly demand tailored surfaces with a range of functional groups. Herein we describe a straightforward and inexpensive method based exclusively on solid-phase synthesis for the preparation of a variety of customized alkanethiols (ATs). The technique overcomes all the difficulties encountered during the preparation of these molecules in solution. The procedure allows the use of ATs without further purification for the preparation of self-assembled monolayers on gold, typically used to achieve functional group diversity on this surface. This paper describes a straightforward and inexpensive method based exclusively on solid-phase synthesis for the preparation of a variety of customized alkanethiols (ATs). The technique allows a variety of ATs to be obtained in only three steps, overcoming the difficulties encountered during their preparation in solution.


Oberhansl, Sabine, Hirtz, Michael, Lagunas, Anna, Eritja, Ramon, Martinez, Elena, Fuchs, Harald, Samitier, Josep, (2012). Facile modification of silica substrates provides a platform for direct-writing surface click chemistry Small 8, (4), 541-545

Lagunas, Anna , Comelles, Jordi, Martínez, Elena, Prats-Alfonso, Elisabet , Acosta, Gerardo A., Albericio, Fernando , Samitier, Josep , (2012). Cell adhesion and focal contact formation on linear RGD molecular gradients: study of non-linear concentration dependence effects Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine , 8, (4), 432-439

Cell adhesion onto bioengineered surfaces is affected by a number of variables, including the former substrate derivatization process. In this investigation, we studied the correlation between cell adhesion and cell–adhesive ligand surface concentration and organization due to substrate modification. For this purpose, Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD) gradient surfaces were created on poly(methyl methacrylate) substrates by continuous hydrolysis and were then grafted with biotin-PEG-RGD molecules. Cell culture showed that adhesion behavior changes in a nonlinear way in the narrow range of RGD surface densities assayed (2.8 to 4.4 pmol/cm2), with a threshold value of 4.0 pmol/cm2 for successful cell attachment and spreading. This nonlinear dependence may be explained by nonhomogeneous RGD surface distribution at the nanometre scale, conditioned by the stochastic nature of the hydrolysis process. Atomic force microscopy analysis of the gradient surface showed an evolution of surface morphology compatible with this hypothesis.

JTD Keywords: RGD gradient, Cell adhesion, Poly(methyl methacrylate), Hydrolysis, Biotin-streptavidin

Lagunas, A., Comelles, J., Martinez, E., Samitier, J., (2010). Universal chemical gradient platforms using poly(methyl methacrylate) based on the biotin streptavidin interaction for biological applications Langmuir 26, (17), 14154-14161

This article describes a simple method for the construction of a universal surface chemical gradient platform based on the biotin streptavidin model. In this approach, surface chemical gradients were prepared in poly(methyl methacrylate) (PM MA), a biocompatible polymer, by a controlled hydrolysis procedure. The physicochemical properties of the resulting modified surfaces were extensively characterized. Chemical analysis carried out via time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToRSIMS) and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) showed the formation of a smooth, highly controllable carboxylic acid gradient of increasing concentration along the sample surface. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) and contact angle (CA) results indicate that, in contrast with most of the chemical gradient methods published in the literature, the chemical modification of the polymer surface barely affects its physical properties. The introduction of carboxylic acid functionality along the surface was then used for biomolecule anchoring. For this purpose, the surface was activated and derivatized first with biotin and finally with streptavidin (SA V) in a directed orientation fashion. The SAV gradient was qualitatively assessed by fluorescence microscopy analysis and quantified by surface plasmon resonance (SPR) in order to establish a quantitative relationship between SAV surface densities and the surface location. The usefulness of the fabrication method described for biological applications was tested by immobilizing biotinylated bradykinin onto the SAV gradient. This proof-of-concept application shows the effectiveness of the concentration range of the gradient because the effects of bradykinin on cell morphology were observed to increase gradually with increasing drug concentrations. The intrinsic characteristics of the fabricated gradient platform (absence of physicochemical modifications other than those due to the biomolecules included) allow us to attribute cell behavior unequivocally to the biomolecule surface density changes.

JTD Keywords: Wettability gradient, Polyethylene surface, Combinatorial, Immobilization, Biomaterials, Fabrication, Deposition, Bradykinin, Monolayers, Discharge

Martinez, E., Lagunas, A., Mills, C. A., Rodriguez-Segui, S., Estevez, M., Oberhansl, S., Comelles, J., Samitier, J., (2009). Stem cell differentiation by functionalized micro- and nanostructured surfaces Nanomedicine 4, (1), 65-82

New fabrication technologies and, in particular, new nanotechnologies have provided biomaterial and biomedical scientists with enormous possibilities when designing customized supports and scaffolds with controlled nanoscale topography and chemistry. The main issue now is how to effectively design these components and choose the appropriate combination of structure and chemistry to tailor towards applications as challenging and complex as stem cell differentiation. Occasionally, an incomplete knowledge of the fundamentals of biological differentiation process has hampered this issue. However, the recent technological advances in creating controlled cellular microenvironments can be seen as a powerful tool for furthering fundamental biology studies. This article reviews the main strategies followed to achieve solutions to this challenge, particularly emphasizing the working hypothesis followed by the authors to elucidate the mechanisms behind the observed effects of structured surfaces on cell behavior.

JTD Keywords: Cell pattering, Differentiation, Microcontact printing, Micropatterning, Microstructure, Nanoimprinting, Nanostructure, Stem cells