Surface topography broadly influences cellular responses. Adherent cell activities are regulated, in part, by RhoA, a member of the Rho-family of GTPases. In this study, we evaluated the influence of surface topography on RhoA activity and associated cellular functions. The murine mesenchymal stem cell line C3H10T1/2 cells (osteoprogenitor cells) were cultured on titanium substrates with smooth topography (S), microtopography (M), and nanotopography (N) to evaluate the effect of surface topography on RhoA-mediated functions (cell spreading, adhesion, migration, and osteogenic differentiation). The influence of RhoA activity in the context of surface topography was also elucidated using RhoA pharmacologic inhibitor. Following adhesion, M and N adherent cells developed multiple projections, while S adherent cells had flattened and widespread morphology. RhoA inhibitor induced remarkable longer and thinner cytoplasmic projections on all surfaces. Cell adhesion and osteogenic differentiation was topography dependent with S<M and N surfaces. RhoA inhibition increased adhesion on S and M surfaces, but not N surfaces. Cell migration in a wound healing assay was greater on S versus M versus N surfaces and RhoA inhibitor increased S adherent cell migration, but not N adherent cell migration. RhoA inhibitor enhanced osteogenic differentiation in S adherent cells, but not M or N adherent cells. RhoA activity was surface topography roughness dependent (S<M, N). RhoA activity and -mediated functions are influenced by surface topography. Smooth surface adherent cells appear highly sensitive to RhoA function, while nano-scale topography adherent cell may utilize alternative cellular signaling pathway(s) to influence adherent cellular functions regardless of RhoA activity.
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