Microenvironmental conditions impact tumour angiogenesis, but the role of cell-cell interactions in modulating the angiogenic capability of tumour cells is not well understood. We have microfabricated a peel-off cell-culture array (PeelArray) chip to spatiotemporally control interactions between tumour cells in a large array format and to analyse angiogenic factor secretion in response to these conditions. The PeelArray chip consists of a polyethylene glycol (PEG) treated glass coverslip coated with a parylene-C template that can be easily peeled off to selectively micropattern biomolecules and cells. We have designed the PeelArray chip to reproducibly deposit large uniform arrays of isolated single cells or isolated cell clusters on fibronectin features of defined surface areas. We have utilised this microfabricated culture system to study the secretion of angiogenic factors by tumour cells, in the presence or absence of cell-cell contact as controlled by micropatterning. Our results indicate that cell-cell interactions play a synergistic role in regulating the expression of angiogenic factors (i.e., vascular endothelial growth factor [VEGF] and interleukin-8 [IL-8]) in various cancer cell lines, independent of other more complex microenvironmental cues (e.g. hypoxia). Our PeelArray chip is a simple and adaptable micropatterning method that enables quantitative profiling of protein secretions and hence, a better understanding of the mechanisms by which cell-cell interactions regulate tumour cell behaviour and angiogenesis.
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