Due to the possibility to design smart bio-nanomaterials that may trigger specific biological functionalities, the interactions between biological systems and nanostructured materials are attracting increasing interest. In this framework, we studied the response of neurons to gold surfaces with different levels of nanoroughness.
We found that cells are capable to sense and actively respond to the specific nanotopography with a surprising sensitivity to variations of few nanometers. Moreover, by seeding neurons onto micropatterned flat and nanorough gold surfaces, we can induce a clear self-alignment of cells by simply tuning the surface topography at nanometer scale.
These nanostructured substrates were also investigated to explore the impact of nanoscale topography on genomics and proteomics of adherent bacteria. A multidisciplinary approach (by means of AFM, SEM, real-time qPCR and 2D-DIGE) was exploited to characterize bacteria-nanostructured surface interactions, observing that type-1 fimbriae typically disappear in bacteria grown onto nanorough substrates, as opposed to E. coli onto reference glass or flat gold surfaces. We are now developing smart nanostructured substrates and colloidal nanosystems with antibacterial properties.
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