Ligand functionalization of titanium nanopattern enables the analysis of cell–ligand interactions by super-resolution microscopy

Kashish Jain, Pakorn Kanchanawong, Michael P. Sheetz, Xianjing Zhou, Haogang Cai, Rishita Changede

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The spatiotemporal aspects of early signaling events during interactions between cells and their environment dictate multiple downstream outcomes. While advances in nanopatterning techniques have allowed the isolation of these signaling events, a major limitation of conventional nanopatterning methods is its dependence on gold (Au) or related materials that plasmonically quench fluorescence and, thus, are incompatible with super-resolution fluorescence microscopy. Here we describe a novel method that integrates nanopatterning with single-molecule resolution fluorescence imaging, thus enabling mechanistic dissection of molecular-scale signaling events in conjunction with nanoscale geometry manipulation. Our method exploits nanofabricated titanium (Ti) whose oxide (TiO2) is a dielectric material with no plasmonic effects. We describe the surface chemistry for decorating specific ligands such as cyclo-RGD (arginine, glycine and aspartate: a ligand for fibronectin-binding integrins) on TiO2 nanoline and nanodot substrates, and demonstrate the ability to perform dual-color super-resolution imaging on these patterns. Ti nanofabrication is similar to other metallic materials like Au, while the functionalization of TiO2 is relatively fast, safe, economical, easy to set up with commonly available reagents, and robust against environmental parameters such as humidity. Fabrication of nanopatterns takes ~2–3 d, preparation for functionalization ~1.5–2 d, and functionalization 3 h, after which cell culture and imaging experiments can be performed. We suggest that this method may facilitate the interrogation of nanoscale geometry and force at single-molecule resolution, and should find ready applications in early detection and interpretation of physiochemical signaling events at the cell membrane in the fields of cell biology, immunology, regenerative medicine, and related fields.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2275-2306
Number of pages32
JournalNature Protocols
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2022
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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