Regulation of cell-cell fusion by nanotopography
Cell-cell fusion is fundamental to a multitude of biological processes ranging from cell differentiation and embryogenesis to cancer metastasis and biomaterial-tissue interactions. Fusogenic cells are exposed to biochemical and biophysical factors, which could potentially alter cell behavior. While biochemical inducers of fusion such as cytokines and kinases have been identified, little is known about the biophysical regulation of cell-cell fusion. Here, we designed experiments to examine cell-cell fusion using bulk metallic glass (BMG) nanorod arrays with varying biophysical cues, i.e. nanotopography and stiffness. Through independent variation of stiffness and topography, we found that nanotopography constitutes the primary biophysical cue that can override biochemical signals to attenuate fusion. Specifically, nanotopography restricts cytoskeletal remodeling-associated signaling, which leads to reduced fusion. This finding expands our fundamental understanding of the nanoscale biophysical regulation of cell fusion and can be exploited in biomaterials design to induce desirable biomaterial-tissue interactions.